Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Books: "Motherland" By Paula Ramon On Her Venezuelan Family’s Saga


Motherland: A Memoir

By Paula Ramon; translated by Julia Sanches and Jennifer Shyue

Amazon Crossing; hardcover, $28.99; Kindle eBook, $28.99; available today, Tuesday, October 31st

Paula Roman is a Venezuelan journalist who has lived and worked in the United States, China, Brazil, and Uruguay. She is currently a correspondent for Agence France-Presse and is based in Los Angeles, and has written for the New York Times and National Geographic.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Books: More Baseball Titles To Enjoy As The World Series Rolls On


Photo by Jason Schott.

The World Series between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks is taking place this week, and as a follow-up to last week's first round of books to enjoy, here are more titles you will enjoy: The Tao of the Backup Catcher, by Tim Brown; The 1998 Yankees, by Jack Curry; The Voices of Baseball, by Kirk McKnight; Billy Ball, by Dale Tafoya; The 50 Greatest Players In Braves History, by Robert W. Cohen; and Do You Believe in Magic?, by David Krell.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Books: "Sideline CEO" By Marty Smith On Coaches’ Wisdom


Sideline CEO: Leadership Principles from Championship Coaches

By Marty Smith

Twelve; hardcover, 256 pages; $30.00

Marty Smith has been with ESPN for nearly 20 years, and he is known for producing in-depth interviews, vulnerable storytelling, and breaking news reporting across their platforms. He has covered college football and basketball, the NFL, NBA, the PGA Tour, The Masters, NASCAR and IndyCar, Formula 1, and horse racing's triple crown. His 2019 memoir, Never Settle: Sports, Family, and the American Soul, is a New York Times bestseller.

Citi Field To Host Dominican Winter League Series In Less Than 2 Weeks


Citi Field will host the first-ever Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) Series between rivals Los Tigres del Licey and Las Aguilas Cibaenas in a three-game weekend series from Friday, November 10 through Sunday, November 12.

College Football: FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll - Week 9


In the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll for Week 9 of the 2023 College Football season, the top four schools for the second straight week are Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Florida State.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

St. John's Stars Soriano, Taylor Jr., Dingle On Preseason Watch Lists


Joel Soriano going up for a dunk against Rutgers in a preseason game on October 21st. @StJohnsBball.

This week, three St. John's standouts received national recognition, as Joel Soriano was named to the Preseason Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Watch List, Glenn Taylor Jr. is on the Preseason Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Watch List, and Jordan Dingle was placed on the Preseason Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Watch List.

St. John's is one of 12 programs to have three or more players selected to preaseason watch lists by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Kennedy Campaign Asks For Secret Service Protection A Third Time As Threats Increase


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (from his Facebook page)

The Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. presidential campaign announced that an intruder was arrested after breaking into his residence twice on Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Big East Holds Media Day at MSG; Marquette Tops Preseason Coaches' Poll

The big screen at Madison Square Garden. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Big East Conference held their basketball media day on Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden, and it was a celebratory one as this marked 10 years since it remade itself as one focused on basketball. 

Books: On The History Of Baseball As The World Series Is Set To Begin

Photo by Jason Schott.

The World Series will be starting on Friday night with the Texas Rangers hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks. The arrival of the Fall Classic is always a fun time to read books about the history of baseball, and these four titles will make you appreciate the game even more: The Book of Joe: Trying Not to Suck at Baseball & Life, by Joe Maddon and Tom Verducci; The Grandest Stage: A History of the World Series, by Tyler Kepner; The Legend of The Mick: Stories Reflections on Mickey Mantle, by Jonathan Weeks; and Sons Of Baseball: Growing Up with a Major League Dad, by Mark Braff.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Books: "Dwell Time" By Rosa Lowinger

Dwell Time: A Memoir of Art, Exile, and Repair

By Rosa Lowinger

Row House Publishing; hardcover, 280 pages; $27.99

Rosa Lowinger is a Cuban-born American art conservator and the founder of RLA Conservation of Art+Architecture, LLC, which is the largest woman-owned materials conservation practice (www.rlaconservation.com). She is the author of Tropicana Nights: The Life and Times of the Legendary Cuban Nightclub (Harcourt, 2005), a book on Havana's pre-nightclub era, which has been optioned for television by Keshet International, which is known for The Baker and the Beauty. Lowinger has also written the fictional works The Encanto File, a play produced Off-Broadway by the Women's Project and Productions, and published in Rowing to America and Sixteen Other Short Plays, edited by Julia Miles (Smith & Kraus, 2002); and The Empress of the Waves, a short story published in the anthology Island in the Light/Isla en la Luz (Trapublishing, 2019).

Lowinger has co-curated the exhibits Promising Paradise: Cuban Allure American Seduction (Wolfsonian Museum, 2016) and Concrete Paradise: Miami Marine Stadium (Coral Gables Museum, 2013). A resident of Los Angeles and Miami, she is on the boards of the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami, Florida Association of Museums, the Partnership for Sacred Places, and the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals.

In the new memoir Dwell Time, Lowinger weaves together the story of her Jewish Cuban family and their state of double exile - from Eastern Europe in the 1920s and Cuba in early 1961 - with the materials and science of her work. 

With inspiration from Primo Levi's memoir The Periodic Table, Lowinger organizes her story by chapters based on the materials she handles in her private practice - Marble, Limestone, Bronze, Ceramics, Concrete, Silver, Wood, Mosaic, Paint, Aluminum, Terrazzo, Steel, Glass, and Plastics. This technique creates a sense of intimacy, as you can picture what most of those things look and feel like, and how they represented one thing to a prior generation, but now are used as she conserves masterpieces.

Lowinger delivers insider accounts of conservation that form the backbone of a personal story about love and sacrifice that often centers on her efforts to deal with a charismatic and mercurial mother. She juxtaposes repair of the material with repair of her personal life, with stories that include memories of her trips back to her native Cuba, the country where she was born and have shaped her view of the world. 

The term Lowinger uses for the title dwell time, is a measurement of how long something takes to happen. In normal life, it can refer to how long immigrants are waiting at a border, human eyes on a website, and the minutes people wait at an airport, while in the art conservation world, it refers to the time it takes for a chemical to react with a material. 

This is at the nexus of Lowinger's art-and-science based vocation and her personal journey as an immigrant, employer, wife, mother, and the daughter of parents whose difficult personalities were shaped by the abrupt loss of their country and way of life.

In this excerpt, from the chapter titled "Marble," Lowinger writes: "In a Jewish orphanage on the edge of Old Havana, a little girl drags a soapy rag over a long, white marble tabletop. There are twenty of these tables, and twice a day this six-year-old's job is to scrub ten of them clean of chicken, rice, and black beans - the typical ingredients of a Cuban supper. Pork would never be served here, of course. Neither would beef, because it costs too much. On Friday nights, the orphans might eat soup with matzo balls or long egg noodles slathered with chicken schmaltz. The girl likes both these foods. But she won't eat kasha varnishkes, no matter how hungry she is, how much they spank her, or send her to bed hungry. She is maddeningly stubborn. Beatings don't subdue her, neither does making her scrub the marble tables, the hardest task given to any of the little ones.

This girl became my mother. She was born on September 8, 1932, a national holiday in Cuba celebrating la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, the island's patron saint. Most Catholic girls born on this day are named some version of Caridad - charity in Spanish. They are typically dressed in yellow baby clothes, the color linked to Ochun, the powerful female Yoruba spirit deity syncretized with la Virgin de la Caridad. My mother's parents, Jewish immigrants, named her Ita in Yiddish and Hilda in Spanish.

Three weeks later, he mother died. 'I was a ten-pound baby,' my mother says, blaming herself. She also faults the system that required C-sections be authorized by a priest or rabbi. 'By the time the rabbi arrived at the hospital, I had torn my mother up.'

In Afro-Cuban Yoruba religions, each orisha, or spirit deity, manifests specific qualities of the Supreme Being. Ochun controls fresh waters, rivers, divinity, fertility, and love. The men and women born under her guardianship are gregarious and seductive, the life of the party. But cross them and watch out. This river orisha is vain, spiteful, and quick to anger. 'I don't forgive, and I don't forget,' my mother has said for as long as I can remember.

Throughout my life, I have received this warning."

AN INTERVIEW WITH ROSA LOWINGER (Provided by Row House Publishing):

Rosa Lowinger. Photo by Scarlett Freund.

What made you decide to write a memoir and share your story? In 2009, when I had the Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, I came across the memoir The Periodic Table by Primo Levi. As I read the way he structured a family story around the metaphor of chemistry, I realized that I had a similar book in me, about conservation. Initially, I thought of it entirely as a way of showing the world what the conservation field is all about, because there are no books out there AT ALL that display our work in a way that is true and makes sense. Our profession is rife with powerful metaphors about damage and repair, and I felt that telling that story would resonate with so many people. I thought about this book for years and years but put it on the back burner as I built a business, which is now the U.S.'s largest woman-owned materials conservation practice. Then, the pandemic happened. Suddenly I found myself with time to write and reflect. I began a novel, hired a writing coach to help me structure it, and out of the blue I mentioned the idea for a memoir. She said, "stop everything and write that book proposal." As I began to unpack the conservation material, a story about my family burbled through the narrative. It centered around my troubled, volatile, and extremely abandonment-averse mother. I realized that our family's loss of Cuba, a country that my grandparents had moved to in the 1920s traumatized my family irrevocably and made my parents difficult to live with. As I wrote, I began to see the healing metaphor within this subject matter as a way to understand my family history of double exile. Art Conservation teaches us that the basis of all repair is understanding the source of damage. My goal with this memoir was to use this knowledge I have to unravel and learn to understand the intergenerational trauma at the foundation of our family life.

What is the definition of Dwell Time and why did you pick it as the title for your memoir? In conservation, the term dwell time refers to the amount of contact time a chemical material needs to work. It is a measure of action on something you are trying to remove - soap on dirt, solvent on a stain, paint stripper on a varnish. The term dwell time also refers to the total time a person spends in an airport, or looking at a web page, or the time a family lingers at a border, waiting to get into a country, or the time you live in a city before moving on. I chose this title because it perfectly describes how I was trying to clean away the murkiness that made my family difficult to understand. Metaphorically, Dwell Time can also mean the amount of time you need to work on a problem. As I write in the book: "We repair and make reparations by taking the risk of going past our own immediate emotions. Acting is its own salvation. You take the harsh decision or material, blend it into a gel, and watch the magic happen. The content of this book is like one of those solvent gels. That's my hope, anyway.

What exactly is an art conservator and why did you pursue this career? How is it connected to your personal history? Materials conservators (this term is more esoteric, but it's used to include both art and architecture) repair, preserve, and perform preventive maintenance and basically enhance the longevity of all built heritage, which includes artworks, natural history collections, books, media, film, sculpture, paintings, murals, textiles, costumes, tapestries, archaeological sites, and historic buildings and their materials. One work blends art, science, and good hand skills. We are trained in the science of chemical deterioration and repair, and we work within specialties, like doctors. In public building restoration projects, for example, we are the ones who determine how stone or metals are treated, how terrazzo floors are repaired and salts leaching through tiles are addressed, yet we are often relegated to the sidelines and the architects get all the credit, even though they do not have the technical knowledge about materials that we have. In all, the curators, gallerists and fabricators get all the attention, yet it is only we (conservators) who know what to do when someone puts their elbow through a painting, or an outdoor sculpture starts to rust. I pursued this career because I fell into it. I was studying art and not very good at it. A professor recommended the field to me. I got into grad school by default and found that the field dovetailed with my sensibilities. It was all a bit subconscious I imagine. As a conservator, you are a servant to a work of art, never the protagonist. It's got an odd humility to it, work done in the service of someone else's aesthetic. I was raised to be beholden to others' visions, my mother especially.

You left Cuba when you were four years old and returned for the first time thirty years later to attend a preservation conference in Old Havana. What was the significance of this trip? How is Cuba so closely aligned with your work? The significance was monumental. My entire life shifted. I began going to Cuba as often as possible. It was all I wanted to do. Seeing the extraordinary historic fabric of Havana and Cuba - the amazing materials, all needing repair - was a seismic shift in my attention. I was trained to do exactly what Cuba needed. And, I had never known anything about the historic buildings there - the 500 continuous years of architectural history in tile, stone, metal and wood. 99% of Cuba's buildings are historic and every single one needs work. And yet...the embargo and the U.S. relations with Cuba make it impossible for me to work there.

You write in your memoir, "Being a Cuban exile made me into a hyper-outsider, someone separated from the others by a steel trap door of misunderstanding born of the political situation." Please explain. Cuba and the U.S. are sworn enemies and Cuban Americans are the reason for this six-decades-long embargo. It's all about Florida politics. Florida is a big swing state, and hardline B.S. about Cuba being a terrorist nation, etc., wins votes from the strong Cuban voting bloc. The U.S. has relations with Vietnam and China, but not Cuba. It makes no sense. When the Soviet Union controlled Cuba, travel by Americans, especially Cuban Americans, was highly restricted. When the Soviet Union fell, and Americans, including Cuban exiles began traveling there in more significant numbers. We were like hyper outsiders because we knew so little about the country compared to other Latin Americans, who had been going back and forth with ease. It is an odd situation that all immigrants from communist regimes understand.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

College Football: FWAA-NIF Super 16 Poll - Week 8


In the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll for Week 8 of the 2023 College Football season, the top four schools are Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Florida State, with the only change from the prior week being OSU and FSU flipping spots for the second straight week.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Pitino Debuts In Style As St. John's Outlasts Rutgers To Win Charity Game

St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino and Rutgers' Steve Pikiell before the game. @StJohnsBball.


Rick Pitino made his debut as St. John's head coach on Saturday afternoon, and the Red Storm rewarded him with a win over Rutgers, 89-78, in double overtime.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Books: "Crime Novels of the 1960s,” Cultivated By The Library Of America

Crime Novels of the 1960s: Nine Classic Thrillers

Geoffrey O'Brien, editor

Library of America; boxed set; $80.00

This beautiful collection is the latest gem from the Library of America, which helps to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping in print, authoritative editions of America's best and most significant writing.  

There are nine timeless novels from the 1960s, including four that were lost and have been restored in print. It is presented in two volumes, the first one with five novels from 1961-1964, and the second one has four novels that cover 1964-1969.

Candid Comments From The Coaches Of The Atlantic 10 On Media Day At Barclays Center


Photo by Jason Schott.

The Atlantic 10 Conference Men's Basketball Media Day was held on Tuesday morning at Barclays Center.

Dayton is the favorite in the preseason poll, as they are led by DaRon Holmes II and Malachi Smith, and they have four starters returning that were part of last season's talented team that was riddled with injuries.

VCU won the Atlantic 10 Tournament at Barclays last March, and they were the only team to come out of the conference and make the NCAA Tournament. They were picked second, as they are now led by new head coach Ryan Odom, who comes to the Rams after two years at Utah State, which he took to March Madness. Odom is most famous for being the head coach of UMBC when they knocked off Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, the first 16th seed to knock off a No. 1. Odom brings a pair of stars with him from Utah, Max Shulga and Sean Bairstow.

The 2023-24 Atlantic 10 Tournament will happen at Barclays Center March 12-17, 2024.

ATLANTIC 10 PRESEASON POLL - rank - team (first place votes) - votes)

1. Dayton (20) - 370

2. VCU (3) - 321

3. St. Bonaventure (1) - 319

4. Duquesne - 302

5. Saint Joseph's - 257

6. Saint Louis - 225

7. Fordham (1) - 215

8. Loyola Chicago - 177

9. George Washington - 173

10. George Mason - 146

11. Richmond - 137

12. Davidson - 118

13. Massachusetts - 93

14. Rhode Island - 76

15. La Salle - 71


DaRon Holmes II - Dayton Junior, forward, 6-10, 18.4 points per game (PPG), 81. rebounds per game (RPG), 1.7 assists per game (APG)

Dae Dae Grant - Duquesne  - Senior, guard, 6-2, 15.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.5 APG

James Bishop IV - George Washington - senior, guard, 6-2, 21.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 5.2 APG

Daryl Banks III - St. Bonaventure - R-Senior, guard, 6-3, 15.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.3 APG

Erik Reynolds II - Saint Joseph's - Junior, guard, 6-2, 19.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.5 APG

Gibson Jimerson - Saint Louis - R-Junior, guard, 6-5, 14.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.2 APG

QUOTEBOOK: A sampling of what Atlantic-10 coaches said at their individual press conferences:

UMASS HEAD COACH FRANK MARTIN: On entering his second year at the helm: "Growth is still what it's all about. Year 2's are what it's all about because you grow from year one to two and two to three, and that's how normal things operate and function, so I'm super-excited about where we're at as a program. More importantly, I got guys like him (Matt Cross, next to him at the dais) that are so much better at this point right now than they were a year ago, not just physically, but also I understand them better. You know, sometimes we forget that, as coaches, we're not analytic computers, we manage people, not games or machines, and understanding the way they function helps us in their journey to grow. I'm extremely happy with where we're at, and even happier with the growth of the returning guys."

On UMass' expectations heading into the season: "Win the next game on the schedule. I mean, I've never been a big fan of putting a number or a certain accomplishment in place; just want to win the next game on the schedule. Some people think I say this just to sound cute, which I've never been, but life's about growth, man, about getting better, and I heard someone say one time, which makes a lot of sense to me, you can't force a flower to bloom bigger or faster than its destined to bloom; all you can do is keep putting water on it and allow it to become what it's going to be. That's what human beings are - you can't force people to win 27 games, all you can do is force people to learn how to go about it in a positive way, and then allow individuals and your team to grow at the pace it's destined to grow, and that's what I worry about. That's why I don't sleep at night, not because we won or lost, that's the journey we signed up for, the world that we're judged on, but what really matters is, for me personally, is where are the guys on my team then, are they moving in the right direction? Are they in a better place? Are they better, are they getting more confident? Because that's what I'm asking. Everyone on the outside rates me based on my career wins and losses. If that's what they put on my tombstone the day it's time for me to go, that makes me a sad human being. I much rather worry about the people that have been able to impact my life, and hopefully, I've had an impact on their life."

ST. BONAVENTURE HEAD COACH MARK SCHMIDT: Opening statement: "Excited to be here, looking forward to a great Atlantic 10 season. We return, unlike two years ago where we didn't return anybody, we return our top six guys, so we have a little bit of a foundation. Practice is going well, we haven't had too many injuries yet, so knock on wood, but looking forward to having a good season."

On the Bonnies' third place ranking in the preseason poll: "You know, I'm not big into polls. I don't remember the last time the polls were right, I guess I hope the polls were wrong again. I think it shows we get some respect...We had a whole new team last year, you know, and I think those guys did a really good job building the foundation, figuring out what we're doing, so now we have some leadership. Those six guys played a lot last year, as it was mentioned last year, played 96 percent (of the minutes), so there's a foundation, there's some leadership, you know, we don't have to teach them the drills, now we can teach them a little about basketball. To answer your question, the polls, they don't mean anything, games are played and won on the court, and that's what we're going to try to do."

On his nearly two decades at St. Bonaventure and how special the Upstate New York program is: "I've been really lucky, you know, my family and I, we love it up there. You know, when we got up here 17 years ago, we had no idea. I knew it was a basketball school, I had no idea that basketball was this important, but it's a unique place. I use an analogy all the time - I went to Boston College, if I'm in the airport and someone's walking by and says, 'hey man, BC grad,' I'm like 'hey, how you doing?' but if there's two Bonaventure people getting together, they'll be tackling each other! It's just that; it's unique, basketball is really, really important, it's a great place to get a good education, there's no distractions, basketball is king, you know, why would I leave? It's just, I feel comfortable there, it's home, it's the longest place that I've ever been professionally, you know, and we got a great situation. The community is behind us, the students make the Reilly Center a special place, you know, the grass is never always greener on the other side."

FORDHAM HEAD COACH KEITH URGO: Opening statement: "Thanks everybody for coming out and having us. You know, Kyle (Rose) and I are very excited to be here, obviously, at the Barclays Center. Thrilled that we're coming back here, doing the A10 Tournament, obviously last year was something really special for our fan base and our team, and hopefully we have an opportunity to replicate what happened last year and bring a great crowd back here...Just really excited for the season to get going. We've got a great young bunch, a little bit different than last year where we had a bunch of older guys who had their professional routines, their greatness, as we call it, but really excited for our young talent, got a lot of depth, a lot of excitement, athleticism, led by this guy right here, Kyle Rose and Antrell Charlton, fantastic leadership, so I really like our group, a bunch of really good guys who are working their tails off."

On replacing a couple of 20-point scorers: "Yeah, it's going, we're gonna find out pretty quickly here, but again, we love our versatility, we've got a lot of young guys with some great skill, but we pride ourselves on defensive end, so looking to create some turnovers, get out in transition, use our depth and athleticism because that's a strength for us. We've got a lot of eager guys to show what they can do with the ball in their hands, so we'll be able to spread it around a little bit more, but, again, our culture is based off of defending and rebounding, creating turnovers, and trying to get out in transition, and you know, I think our fan base is going to love the types of athletes we have on the floor this year."

LA SALLE HEAD COACH FRAN DUNPHY: On having his premiere pair of guards, Bronx native Khalil Brantley and Jhamir Brickus, returning: "Well, it's very important. I think the guards set the table, oftentimes, we need balance, you certainly need balance all the time, but I think it's the guards, they have the ball much of the time, they really make great decisions. We talk about it every year, we talked about it the other day in practice all the time, and Anwar (Gill) agreed with me, which he often does, by the way. We need to set our numbers at, like, 10 turnovers a game, that's our limit. We're not going to give the ball away that many times during the course of a game. The games are too hard to play, these teams are really good in this league, they're well-coached, and it's a terrific league in so many ways, and, but the guards for us are going to set the tone, and even defensively, these guys, if they get posted by a big guy, make sure he doesn't get the ball in front of you so you're trapped a little bit, and help each other, so I think all these things are important. Guards are important, but you need that balance as well to open up. One of our big guys,(Sophomore forward) Rokas Jucius, from Lithuania, hoping he's going to have a really good year; we need him to play a lot of minutes."

SAINT JOSEPH'S HEAD COACH BILLY LANGE: Opening statement: "The Barclays Center is one of the best venues in sports at any level. It's funny how fast time goes, I feel like we were just doing this, and it turns out it was March, so I don't know what's happened between March and October and November, but here we are, excited to have this guy next to me (junior guard Erik Reynolds II). He represents everything we want in a Saint Joseph's basketball player. We've got a great league, it's got great players, this is one of the best right here."

On what stands out about his team's backcourt, which includes Erik Reynolds II, Lynn Greer III, and Cameron Brown: "I mean, they're great people, number one. You know, we spend so much time around each other that, as much as you want great players, you want to like them, you know, you spend so much time with them, and they're just fun to be around. They're fun to go through great moments, they're fun to elevate during moments where maybe they're not holding up to the standard that we know they can play at or they're down a little bit, you gotta pick them up. It all just comes back to their character. You know, with Erik, it's his spirit; he's one of the most selfish people I've ever been around. With Lynn, it's just his connective energy, he cares deeply about making sure the team is united and together. With Cam, it's his steadiness; he's just a loyal, faithful Hawk, and you know, together, they really are a bunch of guys that help each other."

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Mets Invite Queens-Based Small Businesses To Be Part Of 2024 Culinary Lineup

Citi Field. Photo by Jason Schott.


The Mets were named the USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice travel award contest for Best Stadium Food this past season. 

Citi Field has always been known for their culinary delights since it opened in 2009, but one big reason for this honor was the Taste of Queens portable that debuted in 2023 as part of Taste of the City on the field level.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Pitino: "Now we have to prove it"


St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino. @StJohnsBball.

The St. John's Red Storm basketball program held their media day on Tuesday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena, and all eyes were on the man who has transformed the program: Men's Basketball Head Coach Rick Pitino.

Books: "The Longest Minute" By Matthew J. Davenport, On The 1906 Great San Francisco Earthquake And Fire


The Longest Minute: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906

By Matthew J. Davenport

St. Martin's Press; 352 pages; hardcover, $29.99; eBook, $14.99; available today, Tuesday, October 17th

Matthew J. Davenport is a former prosecutor who practices law in North Carolina, and he has been a contributing writer for The Wall Street Journal book review and Salon.com, as well as a member of the Authors Guild. His debut book, First Over There, was a finalist for the 2015 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, was acclaimed as "a brilliant work for every library" by Library Journal, and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson billed it as "military history at its best."

Monday, October 16, 2023

St. John's Receives Votes In First AP Poll Of College Hoops Season

St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino leading a practice. @StJohnsBBall.

When St. John's hired Rick Pitino to be their new men's basketball head coach, it ushered in a summer that transformed their program that's been very peripatetic and now could be a powerhouse.

College Football: FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll Week 7


In the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll for Week 7 of the 2023 College Football season, the top four schools are Georgia, Michigan, Florida State, and Ohio State, with the only change from the prior week being FSU and OSU flipping spots.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Books: "Once a Giant" By Gary Myers, On Beloved '86 Champs


Once a Giant: A Story of Victory, Tragedy, and Life After Football

By Gary Myers

PublicAffairs; hardcover, 304 pages; $30.00

Gary Myers is the former NFL columnist for the New York Daily News and Dallas Morning News, and has covered the league since 1978. He has authored six books, including the New York Times bestseller Brady vs. Manning, an inside look at the greatest rivalry in NFL history, and recently My First Coach (please click here for our review) and How 'Bout Them Cowboys (click here for our review). Myers also was a long-time member of the cast of HBO's Inside The NFL and the YES Network's This Week in Football.

The New York Giants have won four Super Bowls since 1986, and as Myers points out, that is the most in the time period since then, aside from the six titles that the New England Patriots have won. Of course, the last two of the four Giants' championships were their stunning upsets over the Patriots.

While those two recent Giants title teams were fronted by Head Coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, the first two championships, in 1986 and 1990, had a distinct look as well. 

Head Coach Bill Parcells and his wunderkind defensive assistant Bill Belichick were at the helm, and the team was full of players whose names are now legendary and roll of the tongue of any Big Blue diehard, future Hall of Famers and All-Pros Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor, Mark Bavaro, Harry Carson, George Martin, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson, Maurice Carthon, and Mark Collins.

The one that holds a special place in Giants' fans hearts, because they watched the team build up to the moment, in a way a football team can't develop anymore is 1986. The Giants raced to a 14-2 record, the best record of their four Super Bowl champions. They then ran through the stalwart San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins in the NFC playoffs before dominating the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, to deliver the Giants their first ring in 30 years.

The '86 Giants are the focus of Myers' new book, Once a Giant, and while the insights on that season are incredible, it is a story of friendships, how close members of that team were then and are to this day. 

This was a tight-knit bunch that knew how to force each other to play their best, while also having fun. They constantly played practical jokes on each other, in the locker room throughout the season and at training camp, such as the day Jim Burt pulled multiple pranks on Phil Simms, starting the day by spraying a fire extinguisher into his room and leading him to think his $50,000 car was missing by parking it across the Pace campus. Hazing, which was common in that era, was nearly non-existent with these Giants, especially after Carson and Banks nearly came to blows in the locker room in 1984. 

When the gridiron glory faded, chronic pain, addiction, and in some cases, crime followed. Many football players face these realities, but the Giants have confronted and survived them as one. With unprecedented access, Myers gives a window into Bavaro's battles with injuries, Lawrence Taylor's struggles with sobriety, and the breakup and reconciliation of Parcells and Belichick. They had a falling out after Belichick reneged on coaching the Jets in 2000 after Parcells stepped down, and he went to the Patriots, where Parcells had bolted from to take the Jets job in 1997. After they reconnected, Parcells even recommended Belichick move into the same development in Palm Beach county, and when both are in town at the same time, they meet regularly for breakfast on Saturday mornings. 

In this excerpt, Myers writes of how these players are still looked after by their coach to this day: "Parcells feels indebted to his former players for buying into his demanding program and risking their health and bodies for him and the team, ultimately making him a very successful coach and very rich man. He feels responsible for their well-being and wants to assist if they need money.

'They sacrificed so much for me,' he said.

'A lot of guys have trouble with career transitions and a lot of them placed calls to Bill to help out,' Martin said. 'Bill has the means to do some things. He doesn't get the credit for it and doesn't want it. The $4 million is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many others who need money.'

Some of the '86 Giants made it big in their post-football lives. Some continue to struggle. Either way, they consider one another family. Parcells knows the inherent brutality of the NFL surely has led to the health issues, many serious, that his players have endured. If the best way to assist them is with an open checkbook policy to pay for doctors or lawyers or child support or to reduce overwhelming debt and provide peace of mind, he asks a few questions and sends the money. It's his form of philanthropy, but he first makes sure his former player really needs the money. He has embraced what he considers his responsibility.

'Why wouldn't you feel that way?' he said. 'Some of these guys spent ten to twelve years with me. Some of them didn't have fathers. I feel an obligation to help them.'

Banks has done very well in the business world as the president of G-III Sports, an apparel company with licensing agreements in professional and college sports. He has also managed a herniated disc in his back without requiring surgery. Carson had a sports consulting company. Simms jumped right into television after he retired in 1994 and has worked for ESPN, NBC, and CBS. Collins is an ambassador for the Kansas City Chiefs in addition to being the founder and CEO of 2FiveSports, a recruiting service for high school athletes. Gary Reasons has worked in a wide variety of fields as a college football broadcaster, an executive with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and has helped establish telehealth for retired NFL players through the NFL Alumni Association. Pepper Johnson and Maurice Carthon had long careers as NFL assistant coaches.

Parcells had an impact on all of their lives on and off the field - and many applied the lessons he taught them in their second careers. 'Bill really was a hard-ass. He knew he had to be that way to win championships,' Simms said. 'This is just his way of paying back the players one more time. I say one more time because he paid everybody while he was coaching by changing all of our lives. When it's all over and he sits back, he wants to reconnect with the players in a different way. He has a soft side to him, and he shows it with his generosity to lot of his ex-players.'

Simms believes that Parcells disburses the money with not one thought about getting repaid. 'My dad had a great line: Never lend anybody one cent. Just give them the money. If you lend it, you will lose a friend for the rest of your life. If you give it, it will be all fine,' he said.

The '86 team turned Parcells into a cult figure in New York and provided the momentum to set him up for the rest of his life. That was the team of his life, the team of their lives. He gets fifteen calls a year on Father's Day from players telling him they love him. They call him on his birthday. He calls often to check up on them and frequently ends by telling his former players he loves them."

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Books: "Adrienne Kennedy: Collected Plays & Other Writings," From The Library of America


Adrienne Kennedy: Collected Plays & Other Writings

Marc Robinson, editor

Library of America; hardcover,995 pages; $45.00

This new beautifully-produced volume from the Library of America is the definitive edition of the works of Adrienne Kennedy, an essential figure in Black and American theater, spanning from the 1960s through 2010s, and includes ten works that have been published for the first time. 

Adrienne Kennedy: Collected Plays & Other Writings was produced with support from Meryl Streep and VICA Foundation. The editor, Marc Robinson, is Malcolm G. Chace '56 Professor of Theater & Performance Studies and English at Yale University. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including The American Play: 1787-2000.

Kennedy's works are known for being politically engaged, formally daring, and making provocative use of history and popular culture. She has been a force on the American stage since the premiere of her groundbreaking, Obie-Award winning Funnyhouse of a Negro in 1964. 

The haunting stage works Kennedy produced dramatize and project interior realities that are often marked by disappointment and trauma, madness and terror. Her understanding of the inner lives of African American women expresses a powerfully insightful feminism that has come to influence generations of playwrights and writers.

Some of the themes Kennedy explored, and the stories focused on them in this volume, include: the early surrealistic one-acts A Lesson in Dead Language and A Rat's Mess; works that dealt with her longstanding fascination with Hollywood and film culture include A Movie Star Had to Star in Black and White and Film Festival: The Day Jean Seberg Died; and one of several plays featuring her protagonist Suzanne Alexander and the first of her plays to be staged, albeit belatedly in 2022, on Broadway, Ohio State Murders

There also is Sleep Deprivation Chamber, a searing indictment of racially motivated police violence based on real-life incidents involving her son, Adam P. Kennedy, who co-wrote the play. In addition, Kennedy adapted and reimagined works by Euripides, Flaubert, and John Lennon.

In addition to Kennedy's plays, she has made her mark with fiction and memoirs. She provides a rich portrait of her life and experience in her book People Who Led to My Plays, and in the essay "Almost Eighty." 

Kennedy writes in this excerpt from that essay: AT ALMOST EIGHTY, I wondered if I could find reasons to live.

I kept begging my son to print out pages of my mother's scrapbook, which was on his computer. Why?

All I knew was my eightieth birthday was in three months, and I was extremely sad. I had been at his family house in Virginia for a month, the month of June. For the first time I could not see how I was going to financially maintain my apartment in Manhattan, my beloved apartment on West 89th Street, an apartment I'd had for twenty-nine years, despite commuting to California and Boston, my precious home near the Hudson.

I seemed to lack energy, purpose. Dreams.

"Please print out my mother's scrapbook," I begged. He was busy. The scrapbook was in the middle of other documents.

I didn't know why but I kept begging. I wanted to see that scrapbook, started in 1926. I wanted to see all the glued-on photographs and programs that filled the pages until 1928. And from 1928-1954 all the photographs and newspaper articles that were stuck inside the pages of the scrapbook.

I'd already decided if I can't find reasons to live, then what's the point?

What can I embark on at eighty?

What could I possibly embark on?

"Embarking" had always been one of my mental mainstays.

Finally, Adam printed out my mother's scrapbook that she started when she was a student at Atlanta University 1926-1928. I felt it was my compass. My beautiful compass.

About The Library of America: An independent nonprofit organization, the Library of America was founded in 1979 with seed funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation. It helps to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping in print, authoritative editions of America's best and most significant writing. 

Library for America editions will last for generations and withstand the wear of frequent use. They are printed on lightweight, acid-free paper that will not turn yellow or brittle with age. Sewn bindings allow the books to open easily and lie flat. Flexible, yet strong binding boards are covered with a closely woven rayon cloth. The page layout has been designed for readability, as well as elegance.

Books: "First Gen" By Alejandra Campoverdi

First Gen: A Memoir

By Alejandra Campoverdi

Grand Central Publishing; hardcover, 288 pages; $28.00

Alejandra Campoverdi is a nationally recognized women's health advocate who was the first White House deputy director of Hispanic media under President Barack Obama. She produced and appeared in the groundbreaking PBS documentary Inheritance, and founded the Latinos & BRCA awareness initiative in partnership with Penn Medicine's Basser Center. She is on the boards of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy; the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino; and the California Community Foundation.

Friday, October 13, 2023

RFK Jr. Will Have New Campaign Manager As Kucinich Steps Down

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Courtesy Kennedy 24.

Dennis Kucinich, the former Democratic Congressman, Mayor of Cleveland, and two-time Presidential candidate, announced on Friday that he would be stepping down as campaign manager of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s 2024 campaign for the Presidency.

Books: "No Ordinary Assignment" By Jane Ferguson

No Ordinary Assignment: A Memoir

By Jane Ferguson

Mariner Books; hardcover; $29.99

Jane Ferguson is a Special Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, a regular contributor to the New Yorker. and has been a visiting Professor of War Reporting at Princeton University. She is the winner of the Peabody Award, the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, an Emmy Award, and the George Polk Award and Aurora Humanitarian Journalism Award.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Books: "The Big Time" On The Innovative 1970s In Sports, By Michael MacCambridge

 The Big Time: How the 1970s Transformed Sports in America

By Michael MacCambridge

Grand Central Publishing; hardcover, $32.50; available today, Tuesday, October 10th 

Michael MacCambridge is an author, journalist, and TV commentator, whose books have included the acclaimed America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation and Chuck Noll: His Life's Work. He was a columnist and critic at the Austin American-Statesman for eight years, and he was later on a contributor to A New Literary History of America. His work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

Monday, October 9, 2023

College Football: FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll - Week 6


In the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll for Week 6 of the 2023 College Football season, the top four schools are not much of a surprise - Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Florida State.

RFK Jr. To Run For President As Independent In 2024

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaking on Monday afternoon. Courtesy of Kennedy 24 campaign.


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. declared himself an independent candidate in the 2024 race for the White House in a widely-anticipated event on Monday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Kennedy had been running in the Democratic party primary against President Joe Biden, since May, appearing in events all over the country, including one in Brooklyn in August that drew 800 people. In the past month, his bid faced many obstacles in the nominating contests by the DNC, which were part of why he made this decision.

After all, the Kennedy dynasty has been associated with the Democratic party, as his uncle was President John F. Kennedy, and his father, Robert F. Kennedy was Senator from New York who was running for the Presidency in 1968 before he was slain.

Kennedy is known for his his career in activism, starting with his work as a young attorney for the environmental nonprofit RiverKeeper in 1985, as he prosecuted polluters, ensured fresh drinking water throughout the country, and preserved fishing as a valuable livelihood. He won numerous cases against corporate giants, including a court order against ExxonMobil mandating they clean up tens of millions of gallons of oil that spilled in Brooklyn. 

Building on the success of RiverKeeper's local model, Kennedy co-founded the WaterKeeper Alliance and served as its president for 21 years. It became the world's largest nonprofit devoted to clean water, and it now protects 2.7 million miles of waterways with over a million volunteers in the U.S. and 46 countries around the world.

Kennedy's campaign now has the slogan, Declare Your Independence, and here is a sampling of his the speech he delivered:

Today, as corrupt powers have overtaken our government, the ranks of the dispossessed have swelled beyond Indigenous and Black people to include tens of millions of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck in financial desperation. The dispossessed also include the legions of the chronically ill, the addicted, the depressed, and the 80% of the country that can no longer afford a normal middle-class lifestyle.

A rising tide of discontent is swamping our country.

There is danger in this discontent, yet there is also promise.

The danger is that demagogues will hijack it toward fascism. Or, that our rulers will divert it into an external enemy to start yet another war.

But the biggest danger, which we've seen unfold in real-time, is that we will direct our discontent at each other. As Abraham Lincoln observed, quoting Jesus Christ, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." A polarized nation is easy for corrupt powers to manipulate and strip of its wealth, its freedoms, and its dignity.

Those are the dangers, so, what is the promise? The promise is of reunion. We are told that our nation is hopelessly divided. But I've found it less divided than it seems.

The most hateful voices are usually the loudest. But quietly, Americans are looking with disgust at the vitriol, the name-calling, and the venom. They want it to end. They want us to get along.

The loud, hateful controversies obscure vast areas of agreement.

Most of us agree that we should take care of our veterans at home and seek peace abroad. We agree that teachers deserve decent salaries, and that housing should be affordable, and that corporations should pay their fair share.

We agree that we want a clean environment and wholesome communities for our kids.

Yet these universal yearnings stand alongside a broad agreement that our nation has lost its way.

Americans are weary of the culture war, the phony slogans of politicians, and the partisan blame game that has us all at each other's throats. 

And people suspect that the divisions are deliberately orchestrated, and that getting us to hate each other is part of the scam.

And they're fed up with being fooled, and they are ready to take back their power.

There is no other explanation for the enthusiasm I see every day in the people flocking to our campaign. Sometimes it gives me goosebumps. Their minds may tell them the situation is hopeless, that the elites are too entrenched, that the corruption is too deep. But their hearts say otherwise. I know that because I meet scores of people every day, even those in the hardest circumstances, who haven't given up on America...

For 40 years, Americans across the country have fortified me with their courage and idealism.

But this year, I have witnessed an upwelling of optimism such as I have never seen in my lifetime.

Optimism is not the same as denial. We have to acknowledge the truth. We face a decaying infrastructure, and record levels of addiction, depression, and chronic disease. We face entrenched political corruption and an inequality of wealth not seen in a hundred years.

But the good news is that finally, people are fed up. Something is stirring that says, 'It doesn't have to be this way.'

People stop me everywhere I go, at airports and hotels and on the street, and remind me that this country is ready for a history-making change. They are ready to reclaim their freedom and independence.

And that is why I am here today. I am here to declare myself as an independent candidate for President of the United States.

And that's not all. I am here to join you to make a new Declaration of Independence for our entire nation.

We declare independence from the corporations that have hijacked our government.

We declare independence from Wall Street, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Ag, the military contractors, and their lobbyists.

We declare independence from the mercenary media that fortifies corporate orthodoxies, and urges us to hate our neighbors and fear our friends.

We declare independence from the cynical elites who betray our hope and amplify our divisions.

And finally, we declare independence from the two political parties and the corrupt interests that dominate them, and the entire rigged system of rancor and rage, corruption and lies, that has turned government officials into indentured servants of their corporate bosses.

We declare independence from these corrupting powers because they are incompatible with the inalienable rights or life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that our original Declaration of Independence invoked in 1776.

How can we guard life when for-profit corporations have captured the public agencies that are supposed to protect us?

How can we enjoy liberty when a surveillance state seeks to hide the truth and quash dissent?

And how can we pursue happiness when debt and low wages imprison so many of our nation's families?

And so I have come here to declare our independence from the tyranny of corruption which robs us of affordable lives, belief in our future, and respect for each other.

But to do that, I must first declare my own independence. Independence from the Democratic party and independence from all parties.

I haven't made this decision lightly. It is painful for me to let go of the party of my uncles, my father, of my grandfather and of both my great-grandfathers - John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, Boston's first Irish Catholic mayor, and Patrick Kennedy, a Boston ward boss, who together, launched my family's political dynasty more than a century ago.

But MY sacrifice is nothing compared to the risk our founding fathers took when they signed the Declaration of Independence 247 years ago right over there.

THEY knew that if their revolution failed, every last one of them would be hanged. They chose to place everything on the line.

When John Adams put his pen down after adding his signature to the Declaration, he turned to those present and said, "Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, from this day on, I'm with my country."

I make that same pledge today, so that I may stand before you as every leader should - free of partisan allegiance and backroom deals - a servant only to my conscience, to my creator, and to you.

Today, we are turning a new page in American politics.

There HAVE been independent candidates before. But this time is different. This time, the Independent is going to win.

Three-fourths of Americans believe President Biden is too old to govern effectively. President Trump faces multiple civil and criminal trials. Both have favorability ratings deep in negative territory. That is what two-party politics has given us. And that is why we need to pry loose the hammerlock of corrupt power over Washington D.C. and make this nation ours again.

But there is a sacrifice that everyone, including myself, has to make if we are to unite America.

We will have to surrender a kind of political addiction that is at the root of our divisions. It is the addiction to taking sides. Our nation's renewal begins with listening to each other again - with respect.

Only then will we be able to step outside our tired stuck debates.

We will ask the questions no one thought to ask. We will discover solutions that were right in front of our face. We will listen, not just to the other side, but to those apart from any side.

In a two-sided conflict, both parties have a kind of mutual dependency. Each depends on the other to define themselves as the good guys, in contrast to the other side, who are, of course, the bad guys. Well, if you are Team Good, then you'll do anything, however unscrupulous, to defeat Team Evil.

And that's why we have seen both parties sacrifice their own values - and the canons of democracy - in an all-out battle for power.

In the war against Evil, any means justifies the end. The result is that you become evil yourself. The child obsessed with hating a parent becomes that parent.

As I've surrendered my attachment to taking sides, I've been able to listen with new ears to people with whom I disagree, and see solutions that would otherwise have been invisible.

I'll give you an example. Six months ago, I thought that an open border was a humanitarian policy, and that sealing the border meant you were a xenophobe or perhaps even a racist. I was wrong.

How did I learn I was wrong?

It wasn't just that I listened to the other side. It was when I actually visited the border and listened to the people who weren't on either side.

My views changed as I spoke to border patrol officers, to local officials, to aid workers, and to the migrants themselves.

I saw that no one party has a monopoly on wisdom, and no simplistic narrative contains the whole truth.

My promise to you as President is that on every issue, I will listen to stakeholders from every side and beyond any side.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Books: On Current Events

There is a lot going on in the world, and there are three new books that will enlighten your knowledge on how we got here, and what the future holds: Justice Is Coming: How Progressives Are Going To to Take Over the Country and America is Going to Love It, by Cenk Uygur; Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal, by Bettina L. Love; and Cold Peace: Avoiding the New Cold War, by Michael Doyle.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Books: "Payback In Death" By J.D. Robb

Payback in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel

By J.D. Robb

St. Martin's Press; hardcover, 368 pages $30.00; eBook, $14.99

J.D. Robb is the pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. She has written over 240 novels, including the futuristic suspense In Death series. Her most recent release, under Nora Roberts, was Identity, which we reviewed in June (click here). There are over 500 million copies of her books in print.

Amazin' Mets Foundation's First Service Dog Paired With First Responder

NYPD first responder Richie Carter with Shea, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Met. Courtesy of New York Mets.

In an on-field ceremony before the Mets' game with the Miami Marlins on September 28, America'sVetDogs officially paired the Amazin' Mets Founation's first service dog, Shea, with NYPD first reponder Richie Carter.

Friday, October 6, 2023

Books: "Elizabeth Taylor" By Kate Andersen Brower

Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon

By Kate Anderson Brower

Harper; paperback, 512 pages, $21.99; also in hardcover, $32.50

Kate Anderson Brower is a CNN contributor and covered the Obama administration for Bloomberg News. She is also a former CBS News staffer and Fox News producer. She is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Residence and First Women, which was also a bestseller. She has written for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and the Washington Post.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Mets GM Billy Eppler Resigns, Wanted To Give Stearns "Clean Slate"

Billy Eppler during a press conference on July 29. Photo by Jason Schott.


Mets General Manager Billy Eppler just announced his resignation in a statement released by the ballclub on Thursday afternoon.

Books: "Kill Show" By Daniel Sweren-Becker


Kill Show

By Daniel Sweren-Becker

Harper/HarperCollins Publishers; hardcover, 240 pages; $27.99

Daniel Sweren-Becker is an author, television writer, and playwright, whose play Stress Positions premiered in New York City at the SoHo Playhouse. A Manhattan native who currently lives in Los Angeles, he is the author of two young adult novels, The Ones and The Equals.