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HANSEN ALEXANDER ASKS GEORGE VECSEY ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA AND LIFE AT THE NYTIMES

[George Vecsey interviewing the Dalai Lama in New York City in 1979.]

Hansen Alexander: You first met your wife Marianne at Hofstra when you were an undergraduate. Your writing life has incorporated the period of professional advancement for women. You two have been a team in a lot of ways, even wrote a children’s book together, The Bermuda Triangle: Fact or Fiction? Can you talk about Marianne’s contributions to your work?

George Vecsey:  Hansen, I am honored by your interest in my work, and your compliments.

You chose a great way to start because a lot of who I am has to do with my wife (given a great start from my parents, both journalists and union activists.) I met Marianne in college, on a blind date, and was impressed by her inner strength and spirituality as well as her artistic talent and knowledge. The signal event in my life is that, after working as co-editors of two yearbooks at Hofstra, I was lucky to marry her, just kids, barely 21, but both having real jobs, the way it used to be. Her own path as teacher and artist and volunteer for a child-care program in India has included the struggle to be taken seriously, as women know. Living with a strong-minded woman helped me appreciate women with whom I wrote books – Loretta Lynn, Martina Navratilova and Barbara Mandrell. They are formidable…and have bumped up against male/societal expectations….and I was able to enjoy my associations with them more because of my wife. The kids’ book on the Bermuda Triangle? We enjoyed learning about the myths and misconceptions of that fable, together.

HA: A man we share a commonality with is former Army quarterback Carl “Rollie” Stichweh. An idol of mine as a boy, I put on three Stichweh Bowls in the late 60s for my school mates on my farm. Can you talk about your friendship with Stichweh? And is it considered ethical for reporters to form such friendships with people they write about?

GV: I’ll have to tell Rollie about those Stichweh Bowls. He was probably in combat in Vietnam during some of that. I met him when I covered high schools for Newsday and he was chosen the best football player in Nassau County in 1960. I visited their home in Mineola and hung out for a few hours. I was four or five years older than he was, and found him bright and funny and perceptive. I wrote about him when he played QB for Army, splitting two epic matchups with Roger Staubach, now a close friend of his. We kept in touch, he wrote me letters from Vietnam, and later I wrote about his class and their careers after service. I was always a reporter, and he was a very savvy businessman, and understood that, but he was comfortable around me. About a decade ago, he and a teammate talked about how many of their classmates were killed after LBJ and McNamara realized the war was not working. As a reporter and as a friend, I needed to ask: Is that on the record? And these two combat veterans said yes. There are rules about not getting too close to people you cover, but I think our long association is well within those bounds. I got close to a number of Mets and Yankees over the years, and even a few front-office people. Sometimes you know things….all reporters learn to walk the line.

HA: You began your career as a reporter for Newsday on Long Island. Then you joined the vaunted New York Times. How did that come about?

GV: I loved Newsday. It was a great paper in the 60s-70s-80s. I was making noise about covering news at Newsday, but then I got an offer to cover sports at the Times, and I saw more opportunities there.  Within two years, I was living in Kentucky, covering Appalachia, so my move was the break of a lifetime. I still refer to my Newsday years and to “us” the way ball players talk about their first organization, where they learned to play the game.

HA: On the sports desk there you covered the Yankees, Mets, and Giants. You seemed to develop quite a rapport with the Mets first manager, Casey Stengel. Although you continue to sidestep my pleas that you write a book about Casey, LOL, can you tell us about covering the legendary manager and comic?

GV: Thanks, but there are lots of good books about Casey; I’ve written about him in several of my books. I was fascinated by Casey….I was still 22 in their first spring of 1962, and it was a hoot watching him promote the Mets. He knew when you were on to him….I was a great audience…Post midnight in some bar, Casey buying for “my writers,” and I would ask a question, and he would duck it, and half an hour later he would put that grip on my forearm and drop a pithy one-sentence reply and say, “That’s what I’m trying to tell you.” He was complicated…plenty of goods and bads….and I could handle that. I will also say that I drank more in those four years on the road in hotel bars with Casey than before or after (I’m very close to an abstainer now. I’d trudge down for breakfast and the Old Man would be chipper and well dressed, gabbing with people in the dining room. He was tough.

HA: From sports you moved to the national staff, and were based in Louisville, where you covered Appalachia. You’ve said you still have a place in your heart for that region, which included covering West Virginia. And it is an important place to me, too, as Taube is from Huntington, West Virginia, part of the “We Are Marshall” family, her alma mater. Can you talk about those years?

GV: Sure. Gene Roberts, the great National Editor at the NYT, was building his staff, and recruited me from Sports. What a compliment. Gene was so intuitive, knew so much, and is something of a mystic, hard to read. He’d say in his coastal North Carolina drawl, “I think you ought to keep your eye on coal. It’s going to be a big story.” Six weeks after I moved to Kentucky, some miners used the wrong dynamite indoors and blew 38 miners, and I happened to be an hour away because…Gene had wanted me to focus on the eastern part of the state, the mountains. I didn’t get home for four days. I was a greenhorn, but I wanted to learn, and I loved the Appalachia area, looked for any reason to get stories there. My wife says she and the kids lived in Louisville….and I lived in Hazard.  There’s some truth to that. (I also wrote from West Virginia, SW Virginia, Tennessee, western PA, Ohio, Indiana. Best job I ever had. But I could see that our move was not good for the family, and I asked to come home after two years, right back to our old neighborhood, and I’m glad I did.)

HA: Probably most people of a certain age are familiar with the best- selling book about country singer Loretta Lynn, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and the subsequent movie starring Sissy Spacek, but few probably could name you as the author. Yet didn’t that book have a tremendous impact on your life?

GV: Absolutely. I liked old-timey country, from living upstate New York some summers as a kid. You could get WWVA from Wheeling, clean as a bell, in the Adirondacks at night. I was thrilled to visit the Ryman Auditorium and the Opry in Nashville and to interview Loretta on assignment from Charlotte Curtis, the great editor of the Style section. Loretta and I hit it off….but when it was time for her to do her book in 1974, she and her manager asked Pete Axthelm, who had done a terrific cover piece for Newsweek, to write the book. Ax was busy, and declined, and they asked me.  Ax was so talented. In the last years of his life, he would joke with me about his wonderful judgment. Most people who write books have stories like that – the luck, the dynamics. Being around Loretta, and later with Barbara Mandrell, was a delight – the band members, the fans, backstage, shop talk. I can’t complain. Aunt Loretty put my kids through college, and I got plenty of attention – there was a movie billboard, a story or two high in Times Square, with my name on it. I did fine. I was lucky.

HA:  You returned to New York where you would initially report on the Metro desk and cover religion. I’d like you to talk about religion first. You strike me as a very religious man, and your sports columns that you are now known for demonstrated many Christian attributes such as a sympathy for the underdog and concern for the rights of minorities.

GV: What a nice comment. Thank you. I can’t say I am “religious” – I was raised Catholic, had a strong Christian experience in college (that just might have been connected with the lovely girl I married) but I am unchurched. I also grew up with mostly Jewish friends; recently I took a DNA test that revealed I am 47 per cent Jewish: my father had been adopted. I think I always knew that I was part Jewish, and am deeply proud of it.

HA: You have written books about an alcoholic, baseball pitcher Bob Welch, the lesbian tennis super star, Martina Navratilova, and Chinese dissident Harry Wu. What about those people compelled you to write books about their lives?

GV: Interesting question. All very different, but all three were smart and all three were determined, and had gone through struggles. To understand what Bob had gone through, I went to the same rehab center (The Meadows, in Arizona) for a family week, on my own, but interacting with families of addicts. That week was one of the best things I have done in my life because it put me in touch with my feelings, gave me more security and self-control. Martina taught me about tennis, her resistance to the brutal regime from the Czechs’ “good friends from the east.” speaking out for herself, her discipline and drive to succeed, as well as the path of a woman attracted to other women. She remains one of the remarkable people in the world – often speaking out for what she thinks is right. Harry Wu did 19 years in a Chinese labor camp (laogai) for the crime of having an independent brain. He came to the US and was a constant goad to the Chinese regime. He resented the 19 years he lost – spoke for the ghosts of men who had died in his camp. He had a rocky time later in his life. I learned from him, how to resist totalitarianism. He is gone; I’d love to hear him these days.

HA: Can you take us through a day when you were a reporter on the Metro section of the paper? Did you arrive early? Was there a specific deadline? Did you have a formal lunch hour? And how was the pay in those days?

GV: Essentially, every day was different, but if you went into the office, you could get into a rut. They had a huge staff, and you could get lost, and find yourself in a numbing routine of going out to lunch with colleagues, just killing time, hiding from editors in the last hour or three of your shift. I was not a great reporter…but I loved specific assignments, where I could listen…and write….and was happiest way out on the fringes somewhere, doing something an editor wanted. I worked with some amazing people – Gene Roberts, AM Rosenthal, Arthur Gelb, great old reporters, and then watching talented young people like EJ Dionne and Anna Quindlen join the staff. I have never seen a young star accepted so openly by everybody as Anna was.

HA: Were there a specific, minimum, number of sources that you needed for a story?

GV: I never went to J school and don’t know the rules.  I learned that in sports you could check the record book…and watch the game carefully. I think a news reporter is supposed to have two sources for everything, but what if both are lying? In the Real World, everybody lies.

HA: What were the consequences at The New York Times if you got a story wrong? Wrote something that was inaccurate or untrue?

GV:  Depends on the gravity. The Times is a stickler for running corrections, and if it’s serious, they will run an editor’s note to explain. I’ve heard of reporters getting in the doghouse for a story that is not accurate. The Times has gotten taken – the Jayson Blair frolics, making up stuff, the leadup to the Iraq fiasco, but when I worked there, the NYT had many smart editors who sussed out mistakes, and kept them from getting into print. The dedication to accuracy, on small points and large, is unmistakable. People I know who work in other disciplines have no idea how much expertise and how many rules go into the daily NYT. Some people think we just write stuff and it goes into print or on line. They have no idea of the close supervision from layers of editors. The Sulzberger family sets a tone. I know, I sound like a lifer – and I was.

HA: George, you became most well known as the erudite, sometimes poetic columnist in sports for the Times. Can you talk about some of your favorite poets and how they may have impacted your columns?

GV: “Sometimes poetic?” Wow. Nobody ever said that to me before. Thank you. I took a course in the Cavalier poets in my last college semester – Donne, Herrick, Marvell. I was in love, and those poems gave me some gather-ye-rosebuds bravado that just may have done right by me.  We named our second child Corinna, from the Herrick poem. I had some great teachers, and I loved that course, by a rather distant older teacher named Ruth Stauffer. She could flat-out teach. Or maybe I was just ready for those poems.

I hope I learned something about feeling, and writing, from those poems. The value of brevity, of dropping the right word or phrase. I have sometimes tried impressionistic prefaces to books, rather than wordy prose, but I never fooled myself that I was writing poetry. However, I do admire songwriters who tell a story – “Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone….”   James Taylor.

My life, it don’t count for nothing
When I look at this world I feel so small
My life, it’s only a season
A passing September that no one will recall

But I gave joy to my mother and I made my lover smile
And I can give comfort to my friends when they’re hurting
And I can make it seem better for a while

—Iris Dement, My Life.

HA: Taube, you, and I all love the poetic novels of Thomas Wolfe. Was there ever a time when you thought maybe you should be a fulltime novelist like Wolfe instead of a sportswriter?

GV: I was turned on to Thomas Wolfe by my parents in early teens. Wolfe died 9 ½ months before I was born. A boyhood friend of his – the son of his beloved teacher, Margaret Roberts — worked for the Associated Press, where my dad worked, and I was a copy boy, but I never could bring myself to say hello to him. What a moron. I recently read the updated version of “Look Homeward, Angel,” reviving the early chapters about how Wolfe’s dad sassed Rebel soldiers along Gettysburg Rd.  Wolfe’s great editor lopped it off the original version – for space! What a crime.  As for being a novelist, I have never shown the slightest talent or discipline to write fiction. I came to journalism via my parents; it was a family skill. I admire fiction, but in truth I mostly read non-fiction. I am currently reading a book about the Roman presence in England, in the second century, “The Edge of the Empire,” by Bronwen Riley. I’ve been to some of those places in England and Wales.

HA: You began your career at a time when the personal lives of athletes were off limits and ended it when we seemed to be inundated by their off-field lives. Can you discuss that change and your view of whether it was a good or bad development?

GV: “We”  — Newsday – were pioneers. We asked questions and quoted people and wrote about personal issues, late 50s and early 60s, prodded by my boss, Jack Mann, who was upgrading the “national” part of Sports. Jack told us not to be afraid to ask tough questions. Jack also told us that we should interview high school athletes, which led to some pretty tense times. Rollie Stichweh’s coach,  an old Columbia and NY Giant player, Bruce Gehrke, a great coach but a hard-head, hated me. If he saw me at one of his games, he would say, “It’s been nice talking to you.” I’d see Stichweh with a grin on his face. He loved Gehrke and understood the complexity of the man. Many other coaches let us talk to players and we tried to remember they were teen-agers, not professionals.

When I started covering baseball, I liked talking to younger players, who had the same economic scale that reporters did, and some became personal friends. I played touch football in the fall with some of the Mets and socialized. But there was a fine line, in that period before social media and instant photos and twittering. All reporters learn to keep secrets. You store impressions. I was phasing out of my career when reporters started twittering during games, dumping their instant impressions onto a web site. But for most of my career, I was writing about issues and news, not gossip. If you get too close to people, it can be tricky.

HA:  In your final years you lost interest in football, particularly college football, why was that?

GV:  Part of my distance from football was the identity between football and the establishment, the vaguely military caste to everything – do as you’re told. That was a very 60s way of looking at it, and I did. Before that, I had a great introduction to college football, as the student assistant to the sports information director at Hofstra, Dick Gordon. I had a workship, and traveled with the great offensive teams of Howdy Myers, and the great basketball teams of Butch van Breda Kolff. So I knew football players, up close. The ones at Hofstra had to be actual student athletes – pass your courses, or dropped off the team. The more I was around big-time college and pro football, the more hypocrisy I sensed. The authoritarian personalities. Coach.

You’d see entire states – Florida, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, in thrall to Coach, overlooking all the seedy stuff about admissions and injuries and scandals. Big-time college football and basketball are deeply dishonest. I came to realize that. Plus, when TV took over, the football games took so long. After three hours, the ball had been in play about 12 minutes. I found it boring, and hard to write. Some of the dreariest days in my career were spent driving from Long Island (where I live) to New Jersey to cover Jets games and Giants games, fans already drunk on the Interstate, going to the games, and knowing nothing good could possibly happen until I was back in my car 10 hours later, maybe good classical music on the FM radio while I was stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. Ugh. Just thinking about those days….

(MY wife and I did have an apartment in South Florida from 1988-1994, and I covered a lot of Miami Hurricanes and Miami Dolphins and Florida State place-kicker fiascos. I understood football better being in that environment. Plus football kept me in a warm place in winter months—best thing I can say about it.)

HA: Despite your reputation as a superb columnist, you said that athletes you covered, such as in baseball, did not know you as well as they knew the reporters and columnists for the tabloid newspapers. Why?

GV:  We did not have our photos in the papers…and as a columnist I moved around from sport to sport…and, to be honest, the NYT is not accessible to many athletes. But I received plenty of feedback from Times readers, even before emails and social media. And athletes in the clubhouse would get to know you, even if they did not read the NYT; they would form visceral reactions. There were always players who were great to talk to.  When I came back to sports in the 80s as a Times columnist, there were plenty of athletes and coaches who knew me and what I wrote — Ken Dryden, Barry Beck, Pierre Larouche, lots of Islanders, Reggie Jackson, Keith Hernandez, Tom Seaver, Doc Rivers, Billie Jean King, Pam Shriver, Julie Foudy, Alexi Lalas. The NYT has tremendous impact, and the brighter athletes were aware of what we did.

HA: One of the funniest stories I’ve ever read was your account of talking on the telephone with the great soccer star Diego Maradona in Eight World Cups, where Maradona went back and forth in several languages pretending not to be Maradona. Can you discuss covering him over the years, and is he the most talented soccer player you covered?

GV: True story. I was getting ready for the 1990 World Cup, and was asked to do a magazine piece on Maradona, the star of the 1986 World Cup. Somebody slipped me Maradona’s number in Napoli…and I called it…and a man answered. I started in my bad Spanish…and the guy switched to Italian….so I switched to my bad Italian…and he switched back to Spanish.  He knew nothing. Me lo siento. Mi dispiace. He promised he would give my name and number to Maradona. Months later, after a game in Napoli, I heard him give a media conference. Son of a gun: Maradona’s voice was the voice on the phone. I’ve seen a lot of great soccer players. Maradona stole a semifinal game in the 1986 World Cup with a blatant handball goal, but he also made one of the most brilliant runs through the English defense that anybody has ever seen. His grass-skimmer lead ball to Caniggia in the 1990 World Cup in Torino was a textbook assist. He was brassy and talented….and also one of the most addled and paranoid athletes I ever saw. He did not help himself with all the drugs. But at his peak, he was a great, great player.

HA: Several years older than President Trump, you grew up not far from him in Queens. Can you discuss Trump, his reputation in Queens in the early days, when you interviewed him, when you observed his behavior at sporting events?

GV: I knew his older brother, Freddy, who went to school with friends of mine. They loved Freddy, who had problems, and they said his kid brother was a nasty boy. The kid sister of my soccer teammate said that if she played ball in her back yard and the ball went into the Trump yard, snotty little Donald would take it and run inside saying, “Nyah, nyah, it’s my property now.” She’s told that story to the Times. I met Trump half a dozen times around sporting events. He could not make small talk – was out there, somewhere, something unbalanced about him. When I interviewed him, he was vague on facts, even about the football team he owned. His wife Ivana would correct him in that lush Czech accent, patronizingly:  “No, no, Donald, Walt Michaels is not the general manager, he is the coach.” Trump had a box at the US Open Tennis. He would stand out in front, like the statue at the front of a ship. The ball would go back and forth but Trump’s eyes did not follow the players. He was posing, selling the only product he really had – success, or the semblance of success. People in New York who knew him did not take him seriously. We could spot a hustler, a popinjay, a lightweight. Unfortunately, a lot of other folks could not.

HA: You once told me you could type 90 words a minute. What practical value has that had in your career?

GV: I took typing in junior high school. I’m hardly an expert, but typing allowed me to let the words escape. I love to write. My wife says that’s when I am happiest. I hum to myself, like Oscar Peterson playing the piano. It’s true: typing fast allowed me to make deadline, to let the words roll, so I could get out of the press box at a reasonable time and see friends or go hear music or just get some sleep. Typing got me out of work earlier. What’s not to like about that?

HA: Over your career, would you say you have had more positive or more negative feedback from readers? And were there differences in that once you were easily available via e-mail?

GV: My career has been absolutely positive, and I am grateful.  Most people who write letters are either positive, or positive in correcting a mistake or bad impression. Once email came around, the NYT published the addresses of columnists, back when there were regular sports columns. People could lash out quicker, tell you when you were wrong, but that is part of the game. More than a few people began by mocking a position I took, and became “friends” via correspondence. More than once, I got an email from somebody who had just finishing reading my column on line, and informed me I had made a mistake. We could correct it before it got into the paper. Basically, more information and quicker connections can only be good.

Now, retired, I mostly stay out of the twitter wars, except that I have my own little therapy web site (georgevecsey.com) that satisfies some of my old column habit.

HA: When you look back over your distinguished career, are there particular columns that you enjoyed writing more than others, that bring a smile to your face when you think of them?

GV: I did a lot of deadline columns from sports events, which is going out of fashion now that the Times seems to have phased out sports columns. But my job description was to be rational, on deadline, not an easy task. Sometimes it was awful, but sometimes the column just clicked. Once the Braves won the pennant on a hit by a marginal player named Cabrera. I found him in the melee on the field, got a few quotes from him, made the late deadline, and a few hours later caught a dawn flight back to New York. When the cab let me off on Long Island, the Times was still in the driveway – with my substitute column in there – and it was not an embarrassment.  I once wrote a column about a kid from our neighborhood, R.J. Murray, who went hunting right after Thanksgiving near his family home in western Pennsylvania, and he missed a chance at a buck….because he was eating a sandwich of turkey leftovers. I told the story…and I wrote my own headline: “The Sandwich Eater.” (Based on “The Deer Hunter.”) I loved the chance to come up with stuff on my own, something no editor could ever imagine or order. What freedom to be creative. Other times I criticized The Boss, George Steinbrenner. One time, baseball scheduled two Mets playoff games, a night and the next afternoon, on Yom Kippur, the most solemn Jewish holy day. I predicted there would be a Biblical rain – and there was! I happened to get into the press elevator with the National League president, Bart Giamatti, and he was glowering at me, and I just laughed. The game was postponed. God knew!

HA: When you took over the “Sports of the Times” column upon the death of Red Smith, did you imagine writing for a certain audience?

GV:  I was always trying to reach a female reader who did not care about sports results but cared about people and writing. It was a means to an end. Of course, I loved some of the events I covered.

HA: You suggested to me once that a sports columnist was like a kid throwing snowballs at important people. Where did that idea come from?

GV: Oh, I once scared the daylights out of poor Paul Tagliabue, when he was newly elected commissioner of the NFL. We were chatting before a game in some heinous press box on one of my lost Sundays, and I said my concept of my job was to toss snowballs at people in top hats, like in the comics. I think that’s how I put it. Poor man started backing away from me, as if I were mad. Fortunately, Joe Browne, my neighbor and the NFL PR guy at the time, who knows I am an eccentric pain, came over and smoothed things over. Funny thing is, Tagliabue is a great guy…and his brother is a NYT foreign correspondent. I guess my imagery was a little weird for a lawyer.

So it goes.

HA: You and Marianne have traveled all over the world as you wrote about sports. Do you and she have a favorite place?

GV: Oh, gosh. She did go with me to many events, when it was possible to plan. She would see 15-20 plays at the National Theatre during the Wimbledon “fortnight” and sometimes I would make the evening performance.  We drove in the press pack during the Tour de France, that beautiful country. We had a great hotel room in Seoul during the 2002 World Cup and she found art and dance when I had a free afternoon or evening. I love that country. We have Japanese friends in Tokyo, and they took us around on two of our visits there. Germany by train in the 2006 World Cup. We rented a writer’s flat in the Piazza Sforza Cesarini in 1990, she lived like a Roman lady for five weeks. Greece. San Francisco during the 1989 earthquake. Mexico in 1986. So many great places – but the thrill for me was being privileged to work in those places. Here’s a little secret: When the event is over, I want to go home. I am a terrible tourist.

HA: No doubt, I’ve missed many key aspects of your writing career in these questions. Feel free to discuss anything you wish about it.

GV: No, man, you’ve asked great questions that got me going. I wrote a lot about our travels, and my work, in my book about 1986, “A Year in the Sun.” It is not, emphatically not, a collection of columns but about how I did my work. You are kind to ask about a memoir but my 1986 book can stand as my memoir. Well, I have written a bit of rough draft about my four years in college – the athletes, the courses, the start of a newspaper career, the girl I loved…and, the miracle of my life, I married. But that is deep in my laptop somewhere.  Better I should read a book.

 

 

 

TRUMP REALLY HATES BEING PRESIDENT

My theory to explain the daily, careening, out of control behavior of Donald Trump in the White House is that he hates the job he has been selected to do, even if losing the popular vote, and therefore refuses to come out of his campaign posture of hurling insults and wildly false accusations, in order to accept the role of his high office and act accordingly.

True, George W. Bush, in sharply attacking Trump for his racist rants, has noted that Trump has found “power addicting.” While that may be true, all daily accounts of Trump in the White House paint a portrait of a man bored with meetings about specific policy, in which he spends the time glancing at himself on television, disinterested in begging members of Congress for their votes, particularly on the abolition of the Affordable Care Act, and not even playing a role in the one major piece of legislation of his year long presidency, the massive tax cut for the rich and the robbing of middle class tax deductions. They also paint the picture of a man yelling and screaming and blaming everybody under the sun for every issue, a sort of half sane George the III, the English King who never recovered from the haunting impact of his soldiers being literally eaten alive by wolves at the battle of Saratoga.

Part of the reason may be that his political instincts, or those of someone advising him, are a lot more sophisticated than his knowledge of government, another reason he has ordered his White House lawyers to find the legal limits in which he can push his executive powers within each department to get around the standard rules and separation between presidential powers and protected government bureaucrats.

He seems to know instinctively what the limits of his extremism are: he can’t touch Social Security, Medicare, or the 401 K plans of American workers. In the 2016 campaign he also took advantage of the ambiguity Americans feel for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and our relationship with Russia after the end of the Cold War. And who would have thunk that the Republican Trump could so thoroughly smear the war record of Republican Senator John McCain, who was tortured for five years in a Vietnamese prison, with such impunity?

In fairness to Trump, he walked onto an empty political stage, because his fellow Republicans had successfully waged a scorched earth policy against preceding Democratic Presidents to deny them any significant domestic achievements, and neither Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, nor Barak Obama articulated any long term program to replace the lost jobs of the industrial age with new industries of some kind, particularly in the rural regions of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. That Trump more or less got elected on promising to save 299 jobs in Indiana seems laughable, since he was not trying to become the Prime Minister of Ireland where that number may have been significant, but his Democratic opponent was not promising anything. Obama had proposed a massive jobs program with infrastructure rebuilding, but that of course got shaved down considerably by Republicans, who thereupon cheered, hypocritically, that it was not big enough to really help the economy.

Never mind that “jobs” has become the political mantra among Republicans and their patrons the Koch Bothers for every issue under the sun whether it impacts employment or not. This special spin regarding jobs for anything has been limited by Trump to the pages of The Wall Street Journal, whose editor he dines with frequently, and whose reporters are given unprecedented access to carry the jobs message in their daily reporting and, of course, the paper’s virulently right wing editorial page.

Yet in commenting last week that he is the first Republican President to urge Social Security and Medicare not be cut (which is not accurate historically but more or less true recently) Trump understands he is insulated politically because the second President Bush attempted to make it “voluntary,” President Obama refused to call for COLA increases during the 2012 debates with Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton shockingly did not make it a campaign issue in 2016.

By all accounts, including his own, Trump expected to lose the 2016 election and was making plans to create a television network in which he could be admired 24/7 by his disciples. Whatever his relationship with the Russian mob, and whether he committed both obstruction of justice or perjury in denying knowledge of the gang of 8 meeting of his family and campaign, Trump shares Hillary Clinton’s belief that FBI Director Comey’s last minute reexamination of her emails won him the election. Indeed Trump has admitted that he was taken aback by the Democratic reaction to the firing of Comey because he thought they would be glad he fired the man who cost them the election. Whether Trump or Republican backers such as the Koch Brothers were complicit in getting House Republicans to pressure Comey to take out Mrs. Clinton with the 11th hour email charade, or paid them somehow, is an issue that is going to linger out there for a long time to come, indeed maybe forever.

George W. Bush may be right that the power has gone to Trump’s head, but if Trump were making his outrageous daily comments on his television network instead of the White House, there would be a lot less need for Trump to pay attention to policy briefings he has no interest in, his legal liability would be far less and their ensuing consequences which at present could include serious jail time would not be present, and the political instability that Trump incites every day around the world would be somebody else’s problem.

After a year in office you would think that the Fuhrer of Fifth Avenue would have backed off of the role of the godly demagogue if it were all an act, but his grudging adherence to the role suggests that the behavior is not an act, and that we are saddled with a true megalomaniac running the world, at least until until his contempt for the law catches up to him.

 

 

MR. TRUMP’S SUPERNATURAL POWERS OF PERSUASION

So President Trump has convinced half of the American people that the Mueller Report which does not yet exist, and indeed may not be written for years, is biased against Trump. The sophistical argument is that collusion will be discovered because of an illegal wiretap and that the wife of one of the investigating lawyers is a Democrat. But as Trump well knows the conclusions and the report will be delivered by Robert Mueller—who is a Republican. And obviously if Trump did nothing illegal why is he provoking an historic constitutional confrontation to block a report that could clear his name forever if he is innocent? Clearly I was wrong to be skeptical about Trump’s assertion that he could murder somebody on Fifth Avenue and his supporters would not care. I admit it. Trump understands the American people and I obviously don’t. He is pushing some very strong emotional buttons in Republicans to get them to come to his defense after his most insulting and outrageous comments. And people don’t get that wrought up about jobs or the territorial integrity of the United States land mass. We’re all adults. Nobody is fooling anybody else about what that emotional issue is. I’m done.

RECKLESS AND READY TO DRAG US ALL DOWN IN A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

A President who lost the popular vote wants an historic showdown, apparently to show that bullying the FBI and CIA and Department of Justice is just as easy as putting old ladies out in the street after his purchase of New York real estate, or hiding his employment of undocumented Mexicans to construct the entire line of buildings that dot the West Wide Highway in New York City in a safe in the Upper West Side. Those who voted for this Monster because he made them feel good when he stuck out his childish tongue at the US Government, have to understand this is serious business. Let us play out the President’s fantasy briefly here. Robert Mueller produces a report that shows criminal action by Mr. Trump, and the Fuhrer of Fifth Avenue finds an FBI Director or Assistant Attorney General to block that report, hence stopping the prosecution, and he gets away with it, serving out two terms and living happily ever after, even if US banks will not loan him 50 cents the rest of his life. I realize that this scoundrel has already gotten away with 100 things that would have sent George Washington to prison many times over, and which we have all assumed would be his political undoing, but this sounds more like a deeply mentally ill man with a death wish almost hoping to be indicted and have the terrible burdens of the presidency lifted from his shoulders. Despite his bombast and frantic activity, by all accounts he is absolutely miserable being President, not least of all because the normal patience and compromise required of world leaders is beyond his capabilities. A shrink might suggest that the employment of these Mexicans made him feel guilty and his amazing powers of transferring his own sins to others explains his claim of all those Mexican rapists among the allegedly undocumented immigrants. It was really not that long ago that I dated a young woman whose mother claimed all Italian American males were rapists. I didn’t find such disgusting smears amusing then and I don’t find such disgusting smears amusing now.

THE NOOSE TIGHTENS AS TRUMP TRIES TO MICROMANAGE THE INVESTIGATION INTO HIMSELF

The issue of the Fuhrer’s reign has been considerably narrowed in the last 24 hours, the grand contentions about jobs and Confederate monuments now being totally subsumed by one fundamental question: is the United States of America a nation of laws where they must be obeyed by all citizens, or is one billionaire playboy above the law? Not only is he continuing to obstruct justice, but Republican House members are doing likewise is daily threats, interference, and coordinated political attacks on an historically critical and legitimate investigation regarding the role of America’s greatest adversary of the last century, Russia, played in the 2016 presidential election. These desperate measures suggest a tremendous amount of guilt on the part of the presidency of a man who stood up in three debates charged with fraud, illegal tax write offs, and 16 meticulously documented incidents of sexual assault. A President does not have any legitimate authority to impede a federal investigation of his criminal actions and neither do members of Congress. What we have here is a Republican power play that is dangerous, indeed far more dangerous that the coup disguised as an impeachment of President Clinton and the absurd Supreme Court holding that there is a fundamental right to a uniform vote recount, which there was not in 2000, there was not in 2001, and there is not in 2018. Mainstream Republicans need to wake up and reign in this Monster….

Despite the almost comical denial from White House chief wrestler Sarah Sanders, Trump has obviously pressured out the FBI Deputy Director, and he must really be feeling the heat to take a desperate risk in what surely looks like another attempt to obstruct the Russia collusion investigation. But kudos, as always to the Fuhrer for the crafty PR move of sacking McCabe on the day of the State of the Union, where its impact can be buried in whatever outrageous things he intends to regale us with tonight….

 

I have no sense of how the investigation is proceeding. However it would be inaccurate to compare this uniquely awful Monster to any elected leader in democratic countries. His daily antics are most similar to Mussolini, although it may be that Trump sought the presidency to help shield himself from criminal prosecution in the manner of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. Obviously you cannot compare trying to micromanage your own criminal investigation to a consensual piece of adultery, and as a matter of law adultery is not a legal issue outside of a public divorce. The obvious obstruction of justice in the last 24 hours goes beyond beyond Nixon’s stonewalling orders because he didn’t use members of Congress to try to intimidate the FBI. Trump desperately wants to be unique and over the top and he is doing that as he either breaks the law or pushes the fine line between legal and illegal. Don’t forget that suing anybody who fails to praise him lavishly has been part of his bully tactics for 5 decades. You need to tell your Republican friends to write or call the White House and tell Trump to obey the law for once, so he does not do any more damage to their party….
Well one good thing about the Trump presidency, nobody is pretending that adultery is an impeachable offense anymore, thanks to his favorite porn star, and Mr. Mueller does not have to coach litigants into creating a lawsuit to give him a jurisdictional excuse to depose Trump, and hope to catch him in a perjury of denying he had sex with the porn star.

MY LIFE WITH HILLARY CLINTON

Thank you for the opportunity, in passing, to note that my birthday will be forgotten seconds after I have expired, but the life of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be dissected through the ages by American historians, most probably trying to determine how much of her loss in the electoral college (as opposed to her victory in the popular vote) was due to simple prejudice against women.

January 23, 2018, New York City

These future historians will have a better idea, than we do merely a year later, whether the presidency was stolen from here by particular actions of interference by the Russian Government (a fact nobody seriously disputes, with or without the Trump campaign’s collusion) in the tossup midwestern states, or was stolen when unnamed Republican House members pressured FBI Director Comey to parade out 10,000 duplicate emails which had already been examined, with the false implication that they contained criminal or some other illegal evidence against her. Without being paranoid, it is a fair and unresolved question whether any of those Republican House members were paid to pressure Comey.

My initial experience with the Clinton team came as a volunteer in the Washington office of the 1992 presidential campaign where my first boss was George Stephanopolous, a young man so kind and polite that I knew immediately that he would never last in the dirty business of White House politics, and he did not, shunted first to a back room advisory position after a brief and disastrous run as White House spokesman, and then on to ABC News, where he has made his living ever since. One of George’s assistants, John Kroger, would go on to Harvard Law School and become the most successful Mafia prosecutor in US legal history and serve as Attorney General of Oregon. My Saturday morning partner in opening the campaign mail was former Michigan Governor Jim Blanchard, whose wife Janet, worked fulltime in our office.

Essentially three factions comprised the Clinton Washington Headquarters. The Carter administration officials and holdovers who were vicious infighters, the abrasive New Yorkers who I more tolerated than I got along with, and the Arkansas friends of Bill and Hillary who had manners and were my kind of people.

Governor Clinton possessed the volcanic temper falsely attributed to Hillary, and he blew up at me twice. Once over campaign literature that was badly photocopied and not my fault, and once over an appearance at a convention in which I had failed to do my homework and was correctly admonished by the future president.

Washington is a small town in many ways and I knew members of the Bush-Quayle team. One guy I knew was a Dan Quayle advanceman, who I coincidentally had lunch with the Monday after the infamous lamp throwing incident involving Bill and Hillary. He grinned when I brought the gossip up. He was on the plane with the Bushes and Quayle’s that weekend, and said he witnessed Barbara Bush getting angry at George and throwing the lamp at him, the story quickly spun that it was Hillary who had thrown a lamp at Bill. I believe it may have involved the claim at the time that the first President Bush had had a long time mistress, her name often identified, and so will not be mentioned here.

In the final months of the campaign I became a scheduler in the office of outreach, which communicated with and met with business groups and lobbyists for America’s corporations. We were in the middle of selling the Governor’s signature program, a hybrid private corporate/government healthcare program, and all the lobbyists and corporate groups, no matter how liberal or how conservative all signed on. The later spin that we had excluded corporate groups from participation in the health care process was total nonsense. I know. I was there. We took plenty of notes on what corporations wanted in return.

In addition that fall we had the support of Senator Bob Dole, the Senate Republican Leader, who was prepared to offer his own, substitute, Republican, national health care plan should we fail to get our plan through Congress.

I became a paid member of the Office of First Family, directed by Hillary Rodham Clinton. She remained in Little Rock as she directed our operations in Washington, the business of which involved scheduling for the inaugural week activities for the President’s family, of course culminating in the inauguration.

I liked working for Mrs. Clinton, as she was called, because she told you straight up what she wanted done, how she wanted it done, and when she wanted it done, in lawyerly fashion. I was the only person in the Office who hated meetings as much as she did. My best friend became Missy Darwin, a staff member to Senator David Pryor of Arkansas, and soon to marry Bill Barr, the son of Hillary’s best friend. A fellow Methodist, like Hillary and I, Missy got me going back to church, which pleased my mother immensely, although I attended services at the National Cathedral, not Foundry Methodist Church, where both Missy and Hillary would attend weekly.

Another acquaintance was the chief scheduler to the President-elect, Patti Solis. Patty would become the communications director of the Cleveland Browns and unsuccessful campaign manager in both of Hillary’s campaigns for the presidency. My management of the President’s rambunctious brother, Roger, will not be discussed here.

Single at the time, I did date some of the women in Hillary’s inner circle. Late nights in such work creates an intense experience that is never forgotten. You learn late at night who is sleeping with whom. Which gave me inside knowledge on the later false rumors about Hillary Clinton’s sex life.

By then I’m sure that I knew that Hillary had been a “Goldwater Girl” in 1964, young high school and college women who supported Barry Goldwater for President, and that she had come from a solidly Republican family, her father a businessman, in Park Ridge, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. She apparently became a Democrat sometime in college and would of course, marry one, Bill Clinton of Hope, Arkansas. But after a failed first term to shake up Arkansas as Governor, Bill and Hillary moved to the center politically, or pretty much where most Republicans were in the late 1960s, before they began lurching rightward, rapidly, after the Reagan Revolution of the early 1980s. Bill Clinton had helped to found the Southern Leadership Council, a group of conservative, Southern Democratic Governors. The party favoring the liberal views of George McGovern handed the nomination to Clinton in 1992 because they thought such a conservative or centrist could win, but also because the disciple of Lyndon Johnson’s methods, if Jack Kennedy’s personality, understood that the mother’s milk of politics was money, and he made the Democratic Party safe for corporate money again, something the party found quite dirty throughout the 1970s and 80s.

Yet Hillary’s conservative instincts and beliefs and policies made it difficult to wrestle the Democratic nomination from two true liberals, Barak Obama in 2008, and Bernie Sanders in 2016. And rather than run as the liberal defender of social security and our Medicare as I would have advised if I were still in the game, she followed the same, conservative, front runner strategy that had undone the leading liberal of them all, Hubert Humphrey, in 1968.

Yet my time with the Clintons gave me an intimate view of the high ethical standards employed by both the President and First Lady. They required their closest friends to follow all the rules to getting a job and would break them for nobody. Because of this, they were not able to overcome the internal opposition in the Democratic Party to the appointment of Governor Jim Blanchard to become Secretary of Transportation, his desired job. Now consider that Governor Blanchard and Janet were Bill and Hillary’s closest political friends. It did not matter. Bill eventually appointed Blanchard Ambassador to Canada.

I did become friendly with many of Bill’s high school friends, sat next to the President’s high school girl friend (and her husband) during the inaugural ceremony, and became friendly with his life time friend who unknowingly stored the Whitewater mortgage files in her house for several years while investigators were frothing at the mouth for them.

Two weeks before Clinton was even inaugurated it all came apart. I remember exactly where I was when Bob Dole double crossed us. I had just had a brief conversation with George Stephanopoulos over the bowl of cherry cokes we survived on through long hours and was downstairs in the student cafeteria at George Washington University. Then Dole’s attack on Clinton’s pledge to allow gays in the military to serve openly was the lead story on a gray, cold, dreary, Friday afternoon. I knew right then that William Jefferson Clinton would become the first President ever not to be given a “honeymoon period.” The Republican knives were out and the royalist view since Nixon that the presidency was a Republican position the Democrats had no right to, like an English Queen, was clearly the order of the day. It would all end in an ugly power grab in the attempted impeachment, followed by the equally ugly 2000 power grab which ended in the United States Supreme Court with the absurd ruling, based on no law or constitutional rule, that Florida’s election law violated the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection clause that ensured a uniform voting method, total nonsense since the unsigned opinion then declared that this was not a constitutional rule at all because it would not serve as precedent. To this day, Florida, like most states, maintains various vote counting methods and does not have a single, uniform method of counting votes. It is an increasing trend that more and more states are allowing online voting, a further rebuke to the nonsensical holding in Bush v. Gore. The Washington spin at the time suggested Justice Anthony Kennedy was the real author of this travesty, a suggestion that I never believed for 10 seconds. The writing style is certainly that of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, something I know a bit about since my law school graduation paper examined the minute details of Scalia’s theory of jurisprudence, textualism.

I was out of law school by the time of the unethical behavior by Kenneth Star and his jurisdictional gymnastics that are only understandable to other lawyers, including back-channeled advice from Star and a sitting federal judge to the Paula Jones legal team to bring a federal lawsuit, any federal lawsuit, so Starr could have an excuse to depose President Clinton under oath. This, of course, led to the Republican power grab of 1996 and the impeachment, in which Monica Lewinsky played the starring role by claiming she and Bill were “soul mates.”

I want to address something I was not part of, Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State. My honest opinion is that she was an average Secretary of State, essentially paid off with that position for the same reason President Lincoln paid off William Seward with the job, so she would not run against him next time. But in the language of “pay offs,” let us understand the present and renewed investigation of the Clinton Foundation and the allegation that the Foundation received contributions in return for foreign contracts is outright false and let me explain why.

Government contracts, many of which involve foreign aid, are handed out by the Commerce Department, not State Department, after competitive bidding that is closely monitored, and after congressional authorization. Furthermore, the idea that a contributor from a foreign country is going to get a government contract in a foreign country is a fantasy. The whole principle of giving out such contracts is to benefit Americans companies, not foreign companies, and indeed most foreign age packages and contracts come with the stipulation that the country getting the aid (which is almost always a loan and not a gift) must employ a specified U.S. company who has been awarded the contract.

To the degree that there is a political appointee in the Commerce Department who might favors a particular company, that favoritism would be mitigated by the highly watched and highly regulated bidding process. Indeed I worked on such government contracts for the City of New York while in law school. And whoever that political appointee is he is beholden to the President who put him there, in this case Barak Obama, not the Secretary of State. As a matter of practical politics, Presidents of the United States do not allow their secretaries of state to hold political chits to hand out to friends or contributors.

Which brings me to arguably the biggest smear in American political history, at least since the disgusting McCarthy era, in which Secretary Clinton was accused of criminal negligence by Republican House partisans, if not outright murder, for the death of American diplomatic personnel at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

But guess what? The Secretary of State has absolutely no responsibility for security at American embassies and consulates around the world. That is the responsibility of the Defense Department, usually the US Marine Corps. Yet instead of grilling, say the Secretary of Defense, House members engaged in a vicious character assassination against Secretary Clinton. To this day many Americans do not understand this smear.

Furthermore, in the age of terrorism, attacks on US embassies and consulates around the world, including under her successor John Kerry, have not been unusual. Yet none of these other secretaries of state were grilled before congressional committees and accused of criminal behavior.

The contrived scandal that hurt Secretary Clinton the most in last year’s election was of course her asking of a young subordinate to set up an email system on her house server to access it on weekends. From this innocent request, not an unusual one among political baby boomers including General Colin Powell (her husband never used email as President because he did not know how to use it) came all kinds of charges that Secretary Clinton was somehow reckless, that rules intended for subordinates to protect security applied to her, that she was exposing her country to mortal danger and the loss of national secrets. In short, Secretary Clinton, intending to run again for President, was claimed to have intentionally sabotaged her own chances to be President. Sure she did. But the Trump campaign cleverly understood the import of the email issue right away: most Americans used email now and would identify with it and charges of using it illegally would have maximum political impact. In fact, each time the email controversy was inserted into the campaign she fell an extraordinary 11 points in the polls. And if you don’t think that is a big deal consider this: in a national presidential campaign with more than 100 million votes cast, a 5-8 point win is considered a landslide. So we are talking double a landslide in campaign impact.

As it turned out, the Trump campaign was not content to run against Hillary’s weekend server. Even after the Russians hacked into Democratic Headquarters, candidate Trump, not unaware surely of the similarity to Watergate since he lived through it, urged the Russians to do it again!

Now it may be a stretch to suggest that shows complicity on Trump’s part in working with the Russians, but it will be up to the prosecutors working in the special counsel’s investigation to decide that, not we casual observers.

For more than three decades the American media establishment has been happy to publish the most unflattering photographs of Hillary Clinton in the same manner that they joined their British colleagues in publishing the most unflattering photographs of Camilla Parker Bowles.

To those Americans who cheered at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year where Mrs. Clinton was falsely accused of unnamed crimes, I can say little and only shake my head in disappointment. The vulgarity, the venom, the false stories and inventions and lies and exaggerations told about the woman were extraordinary. I can only pray that the bitter hatred and misguided racism exhibited by that party’s nominee there and in the presidential debates shall never be repeated as long as there is a United States of America.

Even in the disgusting depths of the worst years of McCarthyism, political candidates did not stoop to slandering their opponents by calling them criminals, as if the United States were Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy or one of the many South American or Latin American dictatorships of the 20th century.

As a student of history, B.A. degree, I am aware that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s important role in history as the first woman candidate to rule a world super power will be determined by future historians as yet unborn. They will examine the evidence objectively in comfortable, temperature controlled libraries, and most likely will have no emotional involvement in the life of Secretary Clinton.

Yet I am confident of one thing. If Hillary Rodham Clinton were a man, there is no way that he would have been vilified in such an aggressive fashion over three decades while the establishment press passively sat back without questioning the attacks or the outrageous and slanderous claims.

 

 

DON’T MESS WITH ANGRY GRANDMOTHERS

The blood-sprayed platform at the Times Square subway tonight was my excuse for arriving late to Taube’s delightful dinner of mashed potatoes, ham, and cut onions and green peppers. All the blood was the result of a rapid TKO accomplished as I was entering the platform from the North End and when I arrived at the South End to interview the fighters only the loser was still around, calmly talking on his cell phone as the dispatchers held up a couple thousand impatient commuters while they called for medical assistance. From the looks of the injuries to the remaining boxer I theorized that he had probably been hit with a right cross inside the crowded train following the usual subway ritual in which the last passenger to push into the train throws as many passengers around in front of him based on his over- all strength. A crowded train leaves no room for a man to extend Roy Jones, Jr.’s patented buggy whip jab over the heads of several other passengers and certainly discourages even the rankest of boxing amateurs from showing off with a Ray Leonard hook. That leaves a close in punch after the yelling and screaming between the men about the space available in the train, and by process of elimination I’d guess the winner flung a quick right cross at the bleeding man.

From the amount of blood spattered on the stone wall in the middle of the platform I’d say the fight continued outside the train. I’m guessing this happened because no New York fighter not clinically insane would risk the pain and humiliation of getting yelled at and cursed out by a 69 year old New York grandmother. If you think I’m kidding, I will testify under oath that I have seen the meanest and toughest teenage bullies exit city buses in cries and moans after being lectured at by some very old and not easily intimidated women in this city. I’m kind of annoyed at the dispatcher in the South end of the train who did not properly direct me to the exact train so I could properly get some pithy quotes for this report I am sharing with you.

The humble and modest winner of this bout had not stayed around to be congratulated by the New York City Police Department, and must have been born with the footwork of Muhammad Ali, for he had disappeared up the adjoining stairs before I could push out of the way enough fellow travelers on the platform to get to the sight of the blood.

Given the sharp break at the bridge of the loser’s nose, I would guess that the winner was not in his first fight, and may have perfected his craft in the Golden Gloves tournaments of his youth, or, more likely, in prison.

The loser of this bout was a large man with massive hands. These hands reminded me of the massive hands of a large Greek weight lifter I had seen pummeled in a fight in Astoria, Queen, nearly 30 years ago. This large weight lifter had been battered unmercifully by a tiny, thin puncher whose hands were so unfairly quick that the much larger man could not get in a second punch. Of course that was so long ago it was even before the days when Buster Douglas had established the modern heavy weight standard of showing up to defend your title totally out of shape. It was the same time period in which heavy weight fighters reasonably decided that it made more sense to compete with baseball pitchers in throwing no hitters instead of fainting at the sight of their own blood. And when you get upwards of $50 million dollars to throw such no hitters, when the average pitcher’s pay per no-hitter is considerably less, say $50,000, you can see it is obvious that heavy weight boxers have become smarter than baseball pitchers.

But I cheat you dear reader of closure on this mighty bout. The amount of blood that had littered the platform was so pervasive that commuters were retreating as far away as possible so as not to get this bright red guck on their shoes. The champion had clearly succeeded with a flurry of quick punches of some kind or another, as the loser had several cuts on the soft issue under the eyes and above the eyes, the areas of the face that turn fight managers into better appliers of plastic strips than leading surgeons.

Where had the winner escaped to avoid the angry wrath of delayed commuters? Perhaps to Times Square, where on a Friday night at 6PM there were at least 42 million tourists to hide among.

The logistical difficulty of going completely unnoticed after such an impressive win in New York City is considerable. To begin with, there were potentially hundreds of fans who had seen the champion, and while admiring they might be of the repertoire of punches he won with, would nonetheless be questioned by a long line of New York cops who get extremely pissed when their pleasant bullshit sessions about sex are interrupted by louts making them work on a cold, January night. You do not want to commit crimes that piss off New York cops. They turn from blubbering dolts into Sherlock Holmes. Many of these cops are Irish, and the curse of the Irish is that when they get mad they develop superhuman qualities of concentration and focus that they do not possess the rest of the time. Secondly, cameras are everywhere in the New York subway and everywhere on every street. Some may think it is a police state, but I’ll leave that to constitutional lawyers who make more money than I do.

Of course, the winner of the fight may be shrewder than I imply. He may have called his friends with the most experience in hiring criminal defense lawyers and ask for advice. Hiring the best criminal defense lawyer you can afford is usually the best advice you can give a New Yorker. You never know when you are going to be tried by a jury of angry grandmothers. Then you are done for.