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


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.







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.


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.


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.

There is no reason for a second Justice League film

In case you missed this, earlier today the world was introduced to the trailer for the second Justice League film. Here’s the link.

And, in response, I say this: No.





The first “Justice League” came out four years ago, and it was an absolutely dreadful piece of humorless dog excrement, filled with chunks of carrots and shards of broken beer bottle. So you’d think, considering the universal panning of that flick, things would be drastically different for No. 2. New director. New vision. New approach. New everything.


The trailer tells me all I need to know, and all I need to know is that this will be yet another ode to overzealous CGIing, another appearance of the worst cinematic Superman rendering in the character’s history; another chase-fight-monologue-chase-fight-monologue snooze fest.

I get why the idea of the Joker entices some.

But … actually scratch that. I don’t get why the idea of the Joker entices anyone.

This movie can’t possibly be good.

I slammed my head into a chair. It hurt. A lot.

So last night the dog ran outside, which she wasn’t supposed to do.

I chased her, and she moved. I chased her again, she moved some more.

Finally, she stopped, and I bent down to grab her when—POP!

No, not POP!


My forehead slammed into the top of a wood chair, and it hurt like a … well, like a piece of wood pummeling your forehead. I snapped back, reached for my skin and felt blood trickling. Lots of blood. So I yelled at the dog to come inside (this tactic worked far better than chasing her), then entered the bathroom. Blood was all over the place, so I plugged up the wound with some tissues, found a Band-Aid and applied it to the opening.

Now, I’m on my 23rd hour of mild-to-severe headache.

Maybe it’s a concussion. I don’t believe so, because I’ve got no other symptoms. But it hurt and it sucks and now I’m probably branded with an eternal forehead scar that screams to the world, BUY A GUINEA PIG.


Her fault

A letter from Mike Pence

My Fellow Americans:

It has been brought to my attention that my name has been mentioned quite a bit this past week. Some of my colleagues have even suggested that President Trump was willing to have me killed because I failed to follow his commands and hand our administration another four years.

To this, I say: Mother?

Mother, where are you? I need you, Mother. I need you to cradle me against your bosom and feed me the milk of 1,000 llamas. I need you, Mother, to rock me in your arms and tell me we’ll be together forever, holding hands and praying to Jesus Christ and plucking magnolias in a field of endless bliss. You told me, Mother, that everything would be alright as long as I eat my radishes and say my prayers and never, ever, go near another woman. You told me I could always be a good boy, and have chocolate pudding on a cloud with Grandma and Pawpaw. You told me this would all work out, and everyone would love me just as they loved Peter after he scaled the mountain of sacred hearts.

Mother, I need you more than ever. Because these people want to nail me to a cross and spoon out my innards with a Taco Bell spork.



My parachute pants

Back when i was a middle schooler in the mean streets of Mahopac, N.Y., parachute pants were the thing.

You might remember. You might not. Plasticy. Lots of zippers. Myriad colors. All around the hallways of Mahopac Junior High, kids sports parachute pants. They weren’t merely a craze. They were the craze.

I however, was always afraid of crazes. I wasn’t the kid who followed trends. And it wasn’t because I thought I was too cool. In a way, it was the very opposite. I viewed myself as painfully uncool, and deemed any efforts to fit in as ones that would ultimately lead to life-threatening humiliation.

So …

Parachute pants were this thing. And I resisted and resisted and resisted. But they stuck around until, one day, I said to my mom, “I think I’d like some parachute pants.” So we went shopping. Probably to Marshall’s. There were two pairs that fit—black ones that were appropriately snug, silver ones that I’d grow into by (at the latest) my mid-30s.

“The black ones are too tight,” Mom said. “They won’t last a month.”

We purchased the silver ones.

That night, I went to the roller rink—clad in T-shirt and uber-baggy silver parachutes. My emotions were somewhere between euphoric and terrified. I felt like a cool kid. I felt like a fraud. I felt like a cool kid. I felt …

I saw this kid, Louie Hanner. He smiled at me.

“Hey, Pearlman,” he said, “your pants look like your legs are wearing tents.”



I went home.

I threw the pants in my closet.

I rediscovered them, oh 15 years later.

They were outstanding snow pants.

Some serious Albertsons bullshit

We have two supermarkets within a 10-minute drive from our house—Ralph’s and Alberstons.

I prefer Ralph’s.

The wife prefers Albertsons.

I’d argue there’s no clear-cut dominant grocery shopping experience. The selection at Albertsons is a bit better. The employees at Ralph’s are a bit more familiar (meaning, people who work there tend to stay a long time). I like the deli at Ralph’s. I like the bread at Albertsons.

Again, it’s a coin toss.

Well, was a coin toss.

This evening I was talking with one of the Alberstons’ cashiers, who said staffers have been ordered to remain quiet and say nothing if a customer isn’t wearing a mask. He said he’s not allowed to ask someone to put on a face covering; certainly can’t demand one leave the store unless she/he breaks out a mask. “We used to be able to speak up,” he told me. “Now the company policy is clear: We can’t say a thing.”

This marks the second time I’ve been told this by an Albertsons worker—and I find it absolutely infuriating.

Many of the clerks are minimum-wage employees, working nine- and 10-hour shifts, masked 100-percent of the time. They stand there, often with only a single break, and face one customer after another after another. Here in Orange County, where morons (when it comes to COVID) reign in staggering numbers, that means standing inches away from myriad patrons who (“Hey, it’s a free country! MAGA!”) refuse facial protection.

So, to the Albertsons powers that be, I say, “Shame. Truly, shame.”

And don’t expect me back until this policy changes.

Gary violated the code

So the other day I received an e-mail from Gary, who clearly did not enjoy “Three-Ring Circus” …

His review/smackdown did not bother me. Once upon a time it would have. But as I sit here, at age 48, I’m very comfortable with criticism, and people expressing criticism. Why? Because we all criticize. A movie. A meal. We tell our friends. We vent on Twitter. We post a one-star Yelp review. It’s the American way in 2021, and at least Gary told it to my (digital) face, and used his full name.

But here’s when it all went wrong. I replied to Gary with this …

And now it’s Gary’s turn. He has two options:

• 1. The, “Wow, you’re a better man than I am …” cliched note.

• 2. The “No seriously, go fuck yourself. You’re a whore …” cliched note.

Either one works in this situation.

But silence?

Damned silence?

Gary has crossed the line.

On the passing of Pedro Gomez

Pedro Gomez: Always positive.

The Super Bowl was over, and I was scrolling through Twitter this and Twitter that—when everything stopped.

Pedro Gomez, ESPN’s excellent reporter, had died at age 58.

I am devastated.

In this itinerant business of reporting, where you’re in Cleveland one day, Detroit the next, San Diego the one after that, life can often feel like an eternal return to summer camp. You enter a press box, and there’s ol’ Joe. You walk through a tunnel and, “Hey, Sally—how have you been?” You arrange meet-ups outside a locker room; dinners at the nearby Cheesecake Factory. You compare hotel rates, rental car checkout speed. You debate frequent flyer programs and fast food quality and which laptop works best.

In other words, you bond, because the people typing to your left and right know exactly what you’re going through. They get the irritation over being blown off for an interview. They grasp what it is to have a local TV reporter swoop in and ruin your one on one chat.

In the summer of 2005, the person I felt a kinship with with Pedro.

He was a relatively new ESPN reporter, charged with the absolute worst assignment of all time: Covering the day-to-day existence of Barry Bonds, San Francisco’s notoriously ornery (and juiced) slugger. It was, truly, the gig from hell: Bonds hated the media, treated the media like shit, scorned the media, went out of his way to make the lives of media members worse. Craps, as a guy working on my second book, “Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero,” I knew it all too well.

Bonds was unforgiving and brutal.

But here’s the crazy part: Despite every one of his peers expressing their sympathies, Pedro retained an indefatigable positivity. He knew the job was thankless and uncomfortable, but he never shied away, never backed down, never seemed bitter or upset. Here, this is from a 2015 interview Pedro did for my Q&A series, The Quaz

In short, he was a pro’s pro.

In the hours since the awful news broke, one journalist after another has chimed in on Pedro. And what I love—truly love—is that very little of the sentiment is about his work. Nope, what people seem to remember most is his kindness, his empathy, his warmth, his compassion. Long after our Bonds experiences ended, Pedro and I retained a friendship. It turns out he retained tons of friendships with tons of journalists. He was that type of guy.

RIP to a tremendous reporter, and a better person.

PS: This thread for Howard Bryant says it all …