jrpearlman

He was secretly vaccinated

We’re perfect! We need none of your medicine!

There’s something I learned about a few weeks ago, but it has yet to escape my head. It’s this …

Donald Trump was secretly vaccinated for COVID.

It happened back in January—both Donald and Melania received the shot. And … well, they told nobody (outside of, I’ll presume, some family members and close advisers). There was no press release. No press briefing. There was no video of Donald’s rolled-up sleeve, a needle poking through the skin. There was no PSA. No statement advising his followers to come along for the ride.

Again, Donald Trump was secretly vaccinated for COVID.

And, if you think about it, this may well be the most evil of Trump’s evils. Yeah, it’s not as rude as a Tweet, not as loud as a speech, not as jarring as calling someone fat or stupid or dumb or traitorous. But as we speak, more than 1/3 of Republicans insist they won’t get vaccinated, just as—when Trump was in office—enormous percentages of his followers said they thought masks were a scam; said they thought the virus was a hoax; said they thought the whole thing was created to get Joe Biden elected.

Again, Donald Trump was secretly vaccinated for COVID.

How many lives would have been saved had Trump worn a mask from the beginning? How many lives would have been saved had Trump not held rallies in crowded, enclosed spaces? How many lives would have been saved had Trump taken COVID seriously?

How many lives could still be saved had Trump allowed a camera to capture the moment he received the shot; had he stood afterward and said, “It’s safe, it’s painless and it’ll allow all of you to go back to normalcy”?

Alas, he is Donald Trump.

He probably hated the idea of his fleshy schoolmarm arm being captured for all to see.

He probably hated the suggested vulnerability.

He probably hated any trace that maybe, just maybe, he was (gasp) wrong.

So he received the shot in private, without uttering a peep.

Because he is—and always has been—monstrous.

Stop screaming

The other day at was watching varsity sporting event at my daughter’s high school.

The Wolverines were competing against a local opponent, and throughout the tight contest one mother kept …

COMMMEEE ONNNNN!!!!!

… screaming.

She screamed at the players. She screamed at the refs. She screamed instructions and criticism and encouragement. She told people what to do and how to do it and where to be and where to go. She was loud and shrill and annoying and obnoxious, and I can’t imagine any of the competitors found her words helpful and enjoyable or endearing or comforting.

Just irksome.

Marvelous

Just learned a few minutes ago that Marvelous Marvin Hagler is dead. He was 66.

Over the next few days, you’ll hear one Hagler story after another after another. He was a brilliant fighter; a toughie out of Massachusetts who threw punches with legitimately cruel intent and boasted a jaw that absorbed blow after blow after blow. Hagler’s head was shaved to the scalp, and he dodged no man. The guy is top-shelf boxing royalty.

For me, however, when I think of Marvin Hagler I think of April 6, 1987, when he defended his WBC middleweight title against Sugar Ray Leonard.

The fight was held in Las Vegas, but—thanks to a local radio giveaway—I won two tickets to watch on closed circuit TV on the campus of Westchester Community College. This was a huge deal for me. First, because I rarely won anything. Second, because Sugar Ray was on the small list of my childhood idols. So my dad (who knows nothing about sports) and I made the 25-minute drive to WCC’s Valhalla campus, snagged some bleacher seats and watched—on a couple of large screens—as Hagler and Leonard exchanged blows for 12 terrific rounds.

The fight was neither man’s best—if you wanna see the ultimate in Hagler, check out this display against Tommy Hearns. And Leonard’s masterpiece has to be his dismantling of Roberto Duran. But it was gripping entertainment, and it allowed me to sit alongside my hero (my dad) and show him a world he knew nothing about. I actually don’t recall whether Pops got into the fight, but (if nothing else) he never sought to dampen my enthusiasm. I was a kid who cheered and yelped and moved his arms along with the punchers. Dad didn’t mind.

Leonard won a controversial-yet-just split decision, and as I left the campus I’m sure I wondered how long it would take for Hagler-Leonard II to occur.

But here’s the best part: At age 33, Hagler had had enough. He was disillusion by the decision, but also, it seems, tired of the grind. The fighter walked away from the sport, moved to Italy and dove into the world of acting.

Yes, he has died too young. But we never saw Marvin Hagler stumbling over words, or fighting at pop-up gym in his early 40s, or even longing for the golden days.

He had moved on.

RIP.

Who will Scott Sapulpa sue first?

A fascinating story out of Oklahoma from today; one that involves racism, journalism and the eternally awful rush to be first (as opposed to first and unquestionably correct) with a scoop.

So during a Thursday broadcast of a girls basketball game between Norman High and Midwest City High, an announcer went off on a racist rant when members of one of the teams decided to kneel during the anthem. The announcer was unaware that his mic remained on, and what he said was, well, pick an adjective. Any adjective. Disgusting, pathetic, hurtful, damning, sad. Again, take your choice. Here’s the audio, if you’re interested …

I first learned of the situation via a friend’s Twitter DM, and was naturally curious. Who uttered the words? Was this guy known to be a racist? Was he an educator? A volunteer? Old? Young? So I continued to monitor until, a few hours later, Cameron Jourdon of The Oklahoman broke that the culprit was a local preps coach named Scott Sapulpa.

I thought about it quite a bit, and DMed Cameron this message …

Before long, Scott Sapulpa deleted all of his social media. A phone number (attached to his business) went mini-viral across the Twitter landscape, and I’ve gotta think he received a good number of angry/threatening phone calls. Which is kind of understandable, considering what he said on the open mic.

Only, um …

Eh …

Well …

Hmm …

Scott Sapulpa didn’t say it.

Here’s an update from Cameron Jourdon, posted roughly two hours ago …

Oy.

It turns out the racist asswipe was someone named Matt Rowan, who issued the following press release …

Matt is a married father of two; a former youth pastor and a member of a Baptist church. He says he suffers from Type 1 Diabetes, and he says his sugar was spiking during the anthem. For the record, my father-in-law also has diabetes. It’s curious, but I’ve never heard him go on a racist tirade mid-sugar spike. Maybe because (cough cough) he’s not a racist, and the n-word doesn’t reside on his tongue. Weird how that works.

Anyhow, Matt’s future as a youth pastor is probably in flux—as (I’m guessing) is Scott Sapulpa’s bank account, which should grow exponentially after he sues The Oklahoman for ruining his life and reputation and having to forever answer the question, “Are you the guy who …”

As for Cameron Jourdon—I feel for him. Truly. As one who has made his fair share of mistakes through the years (and I did not come up during the era of social media—praise Jesus), I know how hard this gig can be. I know, in 2021, there’s immense pressure to break the story; to be first; to score the victory and lather in the goodness of 100,000 re-tweets.

But, man, I dunno.

This doesn’t end well.

The sad plight of a masturbator without a tissue

In case you missed this, earlier today Donald Trump, Russian action hero and star of his own mental porn, issued this statement from his office way back in the Florida swamplands …

I actually read it and laughed. Then laughed again and again. Clearly, this is a man who misses Twitter in the worst possible way. But this is also a man who can’t help himself; a damaged and broken narcissist who spews like a broken record and masturbates over his own talking points, with nary a tissue for miles.

While there are many factors here worth guffawing over (why is “shot” in quote marks; “often referred to as the China Virus”; the adjective “beautiful” to describe a shot), what I love best is the suggestion that—without Donald Trump—there would be no vaccine for another five years, if ever at all. It’s Drunk Uncle-level shit; a Big Brother desperate to remind a dwindling army of little brothers that, without him, their lives are incomplete.

I know there remain shitloads of Trump backers walking the continent. I know this sort of “You need me” messaging has a history of working in places like Russia and North Korea, where dissidents are jailed/killed and Dear Leader is propped upon a golden throne of chicken nuggets. I know Trump continues to carry sway.

But I am also starting to think that maybe, just maybe, Donald Trump is Emmanuel Lewis in the mid-1990s. “Webster” is canceled, the Burger King commercials are done, Michael Jackson no longer wants you to sit on his lap and hang with Bubbles.

You’re just this guy, begging for a voice when the world has passed you by.

You’re pathetic.

Ignore the haters.

So a few moments ago I received this DM from one of my prize journalism students at Chapman University …

He shared a link to a Tweet from Wajahat Ali, who asked journalists the question, “If a young person wanted to go into journalism right now, what advice would you give them?”

To which Julia Ioffe replied …

And I just … I … I … friggin’ hate this shit. Hate, hate, hate, hate this shit. First, because Julia Ioffe is (according to her (cough) Wikipedia page), a wildly successful and accomplished scribe who covers national security and foreign policy topics for GQ and has no business shitting on the very dream she A. Pursued; B. Has lived. Second, because while, yeah, making it as a journalist is probably harder than ever, it remains a realistic and fantastic way to make a living.

And, sure, maybe I 100 percent fit this suit …

But Yamiche Alcindor doesn’t. Mirin Fader doesn’t. Katie Barnes doesn’t. Wright Thompson doesn’t. Jon Wertheim doesn’t. Molly Knight doesn’t. Jacob Shamsian doesn’t. Rebecca Klein doesn’t. Mike Freeman doesn’t. Charles Blow doesn’t.

I can go on, and on, and on, and on—naming hundreds upon hundreds of working journalists who aren’t mediocre white men, who don’t survive by kissing up and kissing down. Who write beautifully, who report intensely, who still believe in the power of relaying information, and who sustain successful and prosperous careers doing so.

Yeah, it’s harder than it used to be, and the desire to graduate college and immediately land a newspaper job ain’t what it once was. Yeah, saying, “I dream of becoming a journalist” is a little more like “I dream of becoming an actor” and a little less like “I dream of becoming a teacher.” Yeah, it’s a slog. It’s disappointment. It’s rejection. It’s starting out for excrement money at a shit middle-of-nowhere outpost. Yeah, your lawyer pal will be cruising on his yacht while you’re driving a ’93 Geo Metro. Yeah, your Jewish mother (in my case) will urge you to go to dental school.

But—fuck that, and fuck Julie Ioffe telling aspiring scribes not to go for it.

When I was a young gun at Sports Illustrated, the great Jack McCallum said to me, “You won’t be rich, but you’ll have the best stories at your high school reunion—and that’s currency.” He was right. One hundred percent right.

Ignore the jerks.

Drown out the skeptics.

Fight for the dream.

Keep writing.

Matt Brass thinks you’re dumb

He’s all about that Brass, about that Brass–no dignity

IMPORTANT: IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION THAT THE QUOTE ATTRIBUTED BELOW TO MATT BRASS WAS ACTUALLY THE CONGRESSMAN QUOTING A DEMOCRATIC COLLEAGUE FROM SEVERAL YEARS AGO. BRASS’ PEOPLE WERE UPSET BY THE CONFUSION. BUT—ODDLY—NOT UPSET ABOUT STEALING VOTING ACCESS FROM MILLIONS OF GEORGIANS. IT’S WEIRD HOW THAT WORKS WITH THESE PEOPLE.

So in case you missed this Dixie two-step travesty from hell, earlier this evening the Georgia State Senate voted to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting.

What this means, in simple terms, is the state’s Republicans are freaking out over a rapidly deceasing amount of political power. They saw Joe Biden win the state; saw two GOP senators lose the state; see an ever-increasing population shift toward the left—and they’re losing their collective shit. So, step by step, the Georgia GOP is working hard to restrict voting methods that help the Dems. The new legislation, according to the AJC, would “reduce the availability of absentee voting, restricting it to those who are at least 65 years old, have a physical disability or are out of town. In addition, Georgians would need to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or other identification.”

Yup—everything John Lewis and Co. fought against.

But here’s what I love. What I really, really love. Buried deep within the AJC piece is a quote from Matt Brass, a Republican congressman. Here’s what he offered …

And it’s just … just … just—soooooooo fucking infuriating. To translate for Mr. Brass: Donald Trump, the president I supported and voted for, said repeatedly that the election was fixed. So, because he said it over and over and over again, people believe it. Even though it’s total bullshit. But he said it. And said it. And said it. And because he said it and said it and said it, and because none of us had the courage to stand up to his lying, our voters don’t think elections are fair. So we need to make them less fair. By, um, making it harder to vote.

Matt, did I get that right?

Before today, I’d never heard of Matt Brass. A quick visit to his website offers what seems to be a fairly decent guy—a Navy veteran, a University of Georgia grad, a Rotarian. He worked with Habitat for Humanity and has been married to his wife for nine years. Again—seemingly OK.

But for some reason, guys like Matt surrender their honor and integrity when it comes to actually doing the right thing. You’d think a veteran (aka: a dude who fought for this nation) wouldn’t back a president who lies all the time; who made up a story about his 9.11 heroism; who brags about grabbing women by the pussies and who created a phony university to bilk people of their money. You’d also think a veteran would want everyone to vote—party be damned. You’d think, coming from a state steeped in racism and voting obstacles, a veteran would fight to make sure elections are legit.

You’d think Matt Brass would serve with honor.

You’d think.

Coming 2 America: A Quickie Review

So tonight the son agreed to join me for a viewing of “Coming 2 America,” the sequel to the all-time, all-time, all-fucking-time-of-times Eddie Murphy classic, “Coming to America.”

And, to be honest, my expectations were low. With rare exception (“Superman II” and “The Empire Strikes Back” being two that leap from the page), sequels tend to disappoint. They’re almost always reheated leftovers of an original thought gone stale. It’s generally a studio wanting to cash in on some early success. So the cast is returned, the hype is increased, the theatres (when there are theatres) are packed—and most everyone shuffles out with (at best) a big, “Meh.”

Which is, for “Coming 2 America,” the word of words: Meh.

The movie isn’t bad. And, if you have Amazon Prime, the price is right ($0.00). But … well … eh … there just isn’t much there. The story line of 2 is pretty much the story line of the original. The cast is largely the same. There are 800 cameos (from Morgan Freeman to Dikembe Mutombo to the three remaining members of En Vogue), but none feel particularly surprising or inspired. There are some sharp moments (the barber shop jokes are as on point now as they were three decades ago), but most of the comedic setups go pfft. I’d say, over the 110-minute running time, I laughed aloud five times. Maybe six. Which isn’t terrible. Just … meh.

Oftentimes, I groaned. Seeing Louie Anderson looking half dead. Seeing John Amos looking half dead. Seeing James Earl Jones looking half dead. Too much Leslie Jones doing Leslie Jones at nonstop 500 mph (and, for the record, I’m generally a fan).

By the end, I longed for the original.

I longed for originality.

PS: I actually thought the best parts of the movie generally involved Nomzamo Mbatha, an actress worth watching.

Texans should drive drunk

So a few days ago Greg Abbott, Texas’ weeny governor/a man who desperately wants to look tough, announced that his state was ending all COVID health restrictions, and that everything would be 100 percent open and masks are no longer mandated.

“We no longer need government running our lives,” he said. “Instead, everybody must continue to assume their own individual responsibility to take the actions that they have already mastered to make sure that they will not be contracting COVID-19.”

I agree.

And this is why Texas needs to outlaw DUI restrictions.

Texans know whether they’ve had enough to drink. Texans don’t need the government to say, “You probably shouldn’t operate a truck after your 10th Budweiser.” Texans don’t need the Washington liberals to tell them eight vodka and cranberries do not go particularly well with maneuvering a school bus filled with children! Texans don’t need to keep an eye on Texan alcoholics! They’re Texan alcoholics! With car keys! They know best!

Yeeeeee-haaaaaw!

Texans are able to make their own decisions. To run their own lives. If Texans don’t believe a virus that has killed more than 500,000 of their fellow Americans is a threat, it’s not a threat. And if Texans don’t believe their inebriation would impact the ability to drive a car, it’s not a problem.

Texans are strong!

Texans are tough!

Texans deserve to be able to drink and drive!

Hell, give Greg Abbott a ride.

(But only after cracking open a six pack.)

Who is this man?

So because my life is lame and a bit dull, I find myself watching the NFL Network’s replay of the recent Bucs-Packers NFC Championship Game.

At one point, while not staring at the screen, I heard Troy Aikman refer to a catch by “Johnson.”

And, because my brain is warped and filled with cobwebs and goop, I found myself thinking, “Johnson … Johnson … Johnson. Wasn’t there a good Texans wide receiver named Johnson?” So I Googled and, indeed, there he was.

Andre Johnson!

Only Andre Johnson wasn’t merely good. He was great, bordering on Hall of Fame-ish. Over 14 NFL seasons, Johnson caught 1,062 passes for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a three-time NFL wide receiver of the year and the only player in league history with more than 60 catches over his first eight seasons. He is, by far, the most productive and prolific pass catcher in Texans history.

And you wouldn’t recognize him.

And your friends wouldn’t recognize him.

And I, too, wouldn’t recognize him.

That, to me, is one of the great poisons of post-NFL life. If you’re an NBA player, and you have an Andre Johnson-esque career, you can milk that recognition for years. Same with Major League retirees. Even NHL castoffs (if you’re in Canada). But football players exist in the shadows of a helmet; and the minute they’re replaced and cast aside, a new No. 80 or No. 84 or No 87 steps up—looking nearly identical to the last No. 80 or No. 84 or No. 87. It means you are now starting from scratch. Anonymous. Often unskilled in all areas unrelated to a pig’s skin.

You’re told the fame will always be a tool. That it’ll open doors. But, with rare exception, it’s a stench that follows one from place to place. The questions (“Didn’t you used to …”) never end. The introductions (“Andre used to …”) are cringe-worthy. Andre Johnson last caught an NFL pass five years ago, but unless he leaps from a building or invents a replacement for the drinking straw, his post-career achievements will pale in comparison to what he did as a young man; to what he can never do again.

That’s why, when I visited AndreJohnson’s website, I was both saddened and unsurprised.

Saddened, because the last update was filed in 2017.

Unsurprised because it seemed inevitable.