jrpearlman

Pete Hegseth

Hi, I’m a douche

Pete Hegseth spoke at the CPAC convention today.

I know that because it was trending on Twitter. I had to then Google “Pete Hegseth,” because I’ve never heard of Pete Hegseth. It turns out Pete Hegseth is a television host, military vet, failed political candidate and all-around super douche.

Which is fine: All walks of politics are filled with super douches.

What struck me as fascinating was this:

At one point during his speech to the angry white Trump slaves, Pete Hegseth said that when he sits down with real Americans at diners across the nation, “they’re not talking about the esoteric things that the Ivy League talks about.”

Pete Hegseth graduated from Harvard.

At another point during his speech to the drooling white Trump brainwashees, Pete Hegseth said he’s witnessed a sobering decline of biblical values in America.

Pete Hegseth was married in 2017, when he had a daughter with a Fox executive producer named Jennifer Rauchet—who was not his wife.

And, truly, this is the kind of shit I … just … don’t … understand. Donald Trump—American patriot—bragged about sexually assaulting women, failed to pay taxes, lied about being a hero after 9.11, created a phony “university” to bilk poor people, bankrupted a bunch of casinos—and it means shit to these people. Absolutely nothing. They hear the words, and the words are enough. Actions? Deeds? Meh.

Just say it, and we’ll clap.

Ugh.

The Kobe Logo

So there’s an online petition to change the NBA logo, which is a silhouette of Jerry West, to a silhouette of Kobe Bryant. Like the one offered above.

It’s some seriously dumb shit.

Look, I love a lot about Kobe Bryant. I mean that—I love a lot about Kobe Bryant. His work ethic was unmatched. His doggedness was legendary. He won with Shaq, then he won without Shaq. He is, easily, one of the 20 greatest players in the history of the league (And, to be clear, I’m not saying “20” to draw attention, where you (the reader) replies with, “That’s an insult! He’s way better than Top 20!” Truth is, there have been a shitload of tremendous NBA guys, and automatically placing Kobe in the Top 5 means you’re ranking him ahead of some combo of Kareem, Oscar, Wilt, Bird, Magic, Hakeem, Duncan, Cousy, Spud Webb, Larry Krystkowiak, etc).

I digress.

Kobe Bryant died tragically a year ago, and the (understandable) reaction is often to thrust said person toward a saintly status. So we see Kobe as this logo-worthy entity, and those with no appreciation of NBA history and an over-reliance on modern metrics look at someone like West and think of him primarily as a silver-haired general manager who played during the dark ages of slow white guys and bad haircuts. Meanwhile, they convince themselves that Kobe wasn’t (often) selfish, wasn’t (often) destructive to team chemistry, wasn’t nearly imprisoned for allegedly raping a woman in Colorado. He was perfect, just as Jimi Hendrix was perfect when he died, just as John F. Kennedy was perfect when he died, just as MLK and Shannon Hoon and Bob Marley and Thurman Munson were perfect when they died. That’s how we absorb young, unexpected passings—we whitewash the negative, hyper focus on the positives, then try our best to convince those within our orbits that what they heard (negatively) wasn’t actually true.

Again—I digress.

Kobe Bryant was a tremendous player. He died, at 41, a fine father and husband. He died a legend, and justifiably so.

But if we truly want to change the NBA’s logo, there’s only one way to go …

The best thing. Ever.

So the other day my daughter Casey was looking to make a purchase on eBay. She was using my computer, and upon completion I said, “Let’s see how much my books are selling for here.”

I typed in my name, and wound up here. As expected, some of my stuff can be had for $4.09, some can be had for … good God, what?!?!?!

A digression, but do not—under any circumstances—pay $51.97 for my Clemens book. Or $5.97, for that matter.

Anyhow, I noticed that one autographed book was available, which made me curious. When did I sign it? Where did I sign it? How long ago did I sign it?

It turns out the offering in question was “Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero.”

And it was autographed to a good friend.

Now, one might think this cause for bruised feelings. Nope. Just the opposite. I laughed my ass off, then showed the wife—who laughed her ass off. Books are great, and signed books are often greater—but far too often we feel guilted into keeping them around, for the mere sake of keeping them around.

My signature has no value.

But a good laugh—priceless.

The Cam Newton kid

In case you missed this, a few days ago Cam Newton appeared at the NFA 7v7 East Regional held at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s a football tournament, and the former NFL MVP’s foundation sponsors some of the participating teams.

In other words, Newton was involved because he wanted to help, and be of service, and be decent to young boys involved in the sport he loves.

Which makes this so fucking infuriating …

I am father of two kids—and if either one talked to an adult the way this teenager spoke to Newton … man, oh man.

Phone—gone.

Social media—gone.

Any sort of allowance—gone.

Every effort to apologize in person to Cam Newton—enforced.

I’m not kidding. Just watching the clip, I found myself overcome by anger. It doesn’t matter if Newton is an all-time great quarterback (which he is) or a dentist or a garbage collector or an accountant or a sports writer—there’s just no excuse for speaking to him with such blatant derision and disrespect. And I wonder, truly: Where does that come from? How does a young person see Cam Newton at a football camp he’s helping to fund … and think, “You know what I should do? Insult him in front of my peers and have it explode across social media. That’ll be great.”

Again, it’s infuriating.

I haven’t seen the kid identified, and that’s a good thing: He’s young, he’s full of adolescent goop, he’s probably (I’d hope) a bit ashamed.

But there’s no excuse here.

It was terribly wrong.

Johnny Damon

In case you missed this, Johnny Damon was arrested yesterday for drunk driving. The details are here.

Portions of social media took great delight in the news, especially two details: A. Damon’s blood alcohol level was allegedly .30, which is insanely high; B. Damon’s wife was also arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.

It hardly helps Damon’s (public) case that he was a hard-core MAGA guy who was vocally all in on Donald Trump.

But here’s the thing …

I take no joy in Johnny Damon’s arrest. I am not happy looking at his pathetic mug shot; at the receding hairline, the thatches of gray, the neck lines. I’m not happy with any of it.

Why? Because guys like Johnny Damon made deals with the devil. They didn’t know it at the time, but they did. Basically, the contract read like this:

You will be gifted with an ability to hit a round object with a wood stick. You will be gifted with the ability to run swiftly around four planted objects. As a result of this ability, you will achieve tremendous fame. You will have lots of sex with gorgeous women. You will make millions of dollars.

But, when it ends—it ends hard.

Johnny Damon’s last Major League game was played nine years ago, when he hit .222 in limited time with Cleveland. Since then, he’s done … little. A lot of golf. A ton of public appearances and speeches. More golf. Then more golf. And … more golf. He’s surely recognized every day (“Hey, I was at that game in …”) and simultaneously reminded every day that he’s now Superman without the cape, Batman without the car, a lifetime .284 hitter who, were he given 500 Major League at-bats right now, would probably chime in at about .120.

I’m not saying he deserves a ton of sympathy, but being an ex-athlete is (unless you’re prepared—and probably one in 100 are truly prepared) an awful existence—far worse than most people seem to understand. You spend your days frozen in the past, both by the fans who remember you 50 pounds lighter and by yourself, dreaming of sunny afternoons at Fenway Park, when your days were planned and your future seemed limitless.

Alas, the devil always collects.

As he has with Johnny Damon.

A letter from Snowflake

In the wake of Ted Cruz’s controversial decision to leave the frozen tundra of Texas for a Cancun getaway, his poodle Snowflake asked to write a guest post for jeffpearlman.com.

Here’s Snowflake …

Listen up, bitches.

I’ve been hearing a lot of shit talk about my owner, beard wolf guy, and his ugly-ass woman wife who hired the illegal immigrant to speak habla espanol to me and pick up my fudgie doodies in a plastic bag. And I understand, because he’s annoying and smelly and always watching Jared Kushner-Gary Coleman porn after 11. But here’s what y’all don’t understand: beard wolf guy has the biggest heart. He wasn’t going to Cancun to escape the cold. He was going to find the warmth. And while I was saddened to see the news that he abandoned me, Snowflake, home all alone, it’s not true. Not at all!

Before leaving, I heard him on the phone device, telling the illegal immigrant to speak more habla espanol with me and walk me every other morning and turn the thermostat up to 30. He also ordered her to vacuum under the couch and don’t dare touch his Ding Dongs (This part confused me).

Like I said, beard wolf guy has the biggest heart. I’ve seen him bargain down the price of Girl Scout cookies. I’ve seen him pretend to know the name of a baseball player. Once, when he wasn’t home, I peed on the bed he doesn’t share with his wife. He looked mad, and then told me that when he becomes big president of the United States, he’d lock me in the White House basement with the ghost of Lincoln. I was sad. But then he laughed. Or sneezed. Maybe sneezed.

In conclusion, I love the beard wolf guy. And I’d like all of you to love him too. Tonight, when you hit your (very cold, icy) knees, please ask God to love him.

1 … 2 … 3 … Cancun!

In case you missed it earlier this evening Ted Cruz was spotted on a flight to Cancun.

Normally, this wouldn’t be much of a big deal. After trying to overthrow democracy, one must be exhausted. So—Cancun! Pools! Beaches! Makes perfect sense.

But, at the same time Cruz was finding his seat, the people of Texas were experiencing a legitimate state of emergency—tundra-like conditions, massive power outages, nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. And considering Ted Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate by the people of (wait for it) Texas, you’d think he’d deem it wise to stick around and help come up with a solution.

But … nope. Not Ted. As we speak, Ted is at some resort, temperatures in the high 70s, wondering whether to order the non-alcoholic pina colada or splurge and down a Zima.

Here’s the worst part: This isn’t a surprise. If there’s one thing we’ve seen over the past bunch of years, it’s that he highest-level Republican office holders think their followers to be dolts (probably because their followers are dolts). Donald Trump can make millions by being president—none of the MAGAs blink. Ted Cruz can abandon his peeps for a getaway—none of the MAGA’s blink.

It’s special.

Rush Limbaugh is dead

Rush Limbaugh is dead, and according to social media I’m supposed to be happy.

Limbaugh was, at best, poison. A Rolling Stone piece posted earlier today was headlined RUSH LIMBAUGH DID HIS BEST TO RUIN AMERICA, and i don’t entirely disagree. Limbaugh was largely responsible for turning political disagreement into vile hate; into transforming “a guy whose opinions I don’t share” into “he wants to destroy our country.” Limbaugh was a vile man whose utterings on gays, blacks, foreigners, women, democrats … well, they were disgusting and gross and viciously impactful. People listened.

Millions of people listened.

But here’s the thing: I’m not celebrating Rush Limbaugh’s death. Nope. I’m actually devoting any of today’s Rush-related energies to trying to figure out how, exactly, this happened. How Rush became Rush and his brain (and heart) were overtaken by the impulses to attack, belittle, injure.

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Limbaugh worked as the Kansas City Royals’ director of promotions. And he was, by myriad accounts, really nice, really agreeable and really good at his job. He was embraced by the franchise, and those who worked for the franchise—of all colors, of all nationalities. The back-in-the-day Limbaugh had a pep in his step; an instant warmth that radiated. And I’m not just spewing nonsense—over the course of researching a Bo Jackson book (my current project), Rush’s name has come up quite a bit. Always positively.

But the dream, apparently, was radio. Conservative radio, in support of his hero. Ronald Reagan. Which is fine. Four decades ago, it was this sorta mushy landscape where people spoke in sane tones, in reasoned sentences, in the way two normal humans dialogued when they disagreed agreeably.

What happened next—I have no idea.

Rush became RUSH. Larger-than-life. LOUD and BOLD and ANGRY and (worst of all) POPULAR. He spewed hate, and believed what he was saying. He fed off the anger, the disdain, the fire. And if some of his words weren’t true? Well, hey. It’s entertainment. Just entertainment.

I’m not happy Rush Limbaugh died. I’m more curious.

Why did this happen?

It’s all such bullshit

RIP

In case you missed this, a couple of days ago Vincent Jackson, former star wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was found dead inside his room at the Homewood Suites in Brandon, Florida.

Jackson was 38; a three-time Pro Bowler who last stepped onto the field almost five years ago. And while much remains unknown in regards to the cause of death, Jackson seemed to be struggling. His family had reported him missing, and he originally checked into the Homewood Suites on Jan. 11—more than a month before his passing.

Earlier today Ryan Leaf, former Charger quarterback, posted this—a sentiment that largely mirrored how I’ve felt since the news was first reported.

Or, to put it differently: Nobody in the NFL seems to give a shit.

Nobody.

Seems.

To.

Give.

A.

Shit.

Oh, they pretend to.

The Chargers Tweeted out this statement, likely written by the PR intern (who didn’t know Vincent Jackson) …

And the Buccaneers Tweeted out this statement, likely written (for the owner) by the PR intern (who didn’t know Vincent Jackson) …

But the hard reality is, the NFL doesn’t care about its former players. It talks a good game, it brags, it boasts—but it also leaves these men battered, broken, confused, lost, aimless and—often—penniless. It has shown little true regard for helping African-Americans join the coaching ranks, and its much-needed after-you’re-done-playing programs barely exist. As for paying retirees who struggle with CTE? The NFL does everything it can not to pay. Always. Repeatedly. Without a sliver of compassion.

If we’re keeping this real, the moment Vincent Jackson exited the game he lost 90 percent (minimum) of his identity. He was no longer No. 83, dashing down the field, hurdling would-be tacklers, helmet glistening in the sun, 60,000 fans screaming, autograph seekers stalking, meals paid for, women aplenty.

Nope—without the helmet and pads, and with a common name, you suddenly find yourself invisible and painfully obsolete. You have no real-world experience to offer. Your back is killing you. Your knees are killing you. You struggle to remember names and dates. The mansion you bought is starting to crumble. Someone else has been given No. 83.

You’re nothing.

And the NFL knows it.

Balls.

Kinzinger: Guts.

Just read a very interesting piece in the New York Times about Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican congressman who is catching all sorts of shit for supporting the impeachment of Donald Trump.

He was lambasted by relatives.

He was lambasted by people like Larry Smith, chairman of the La Salle County G.O.P., which censured him last month.

He was lambasted by Donald Trump.

Why?

Because, despite knowing the vomit he would take, Kinzinger opted to vote with his conscience.

That’s a rare thing these days. And, in particular, a rare thing in the GOP.

Back when I was growing up, the Republican Party modeled itself upon the ideal of being rugged and rough and standing up to the bully. It was Ronald Reagan, rescuing the hostages from Iran. It was Ronald Reagan, demanding the Berlin Wall be torn down. It was Ronald Reagan, saying communism was an evil enemy. And though one might argue much of that was style over substance, well, it resonated. Republicans loved Reagan because he didn’t take any shit. He stood for something. He was, in their eyes, manhood. Machismo.

Nowadays, however, to be an accepted Republican means to kneel before a lifelong conman whose record of swindling the masses can be traced from Queens housing developments to a spring football league to shady New Jersey casinos to a fake “university” to an airline that went bust to a four-year presidential experience that netted his hotels and facilities millions upon millions of dollars.

Even if one disagrees with Kinzinger (and, issue-wise, I disagree with him on a lot), how can you not admire the guy for knowing he would get filleted—but doing what he believed to be correct? For Christ’s sake, it’s the very thing we teach our children. Be principled. Be strong. Be brave. Don’t follow the bully—create your own path.

I actually just read the LaSalle County G.O.P. Twitter feed, and I’m genuinely horrified by the level of (to be blunt) pussy-dom. Heaven forbid someone not line up in front of the ex-president. Heaven forbid someone see thousands of MAGA lemmings attack the U.S. Capitol and blame the man who sent them there.

Heaven forbid someone have some balls.