Sports Stadiums

We are in the midst of the week of huge sports media for Super Bowl week. People are preparing for big feasts on their big screens with big TV coverage and big commercials. Everything big. Expensive commercials, huge security, insane media presence.

And I used to be a pretty big sports fan. I was always excited to have sports on the weekends, and enjoyed just settling into it. And I didn’t grow up with cable so it was just the free TV stuff.

I had DISH Network for a while in Maine until about a year ago. Partially so I could check out the regional sports networks. Not knowing that most of the games were blacked out and I just got to watch the Best Damn Sports Show period in dozens of markets. I loved and still love PTI. Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser have a special chemistry. It was something I DVRed and frequently watched while browsing the internet and it gave me a good idea what was going on in sports.

It’s funny though. When we gave up the DISH for Amazon Prime and saved ourselves around $1000/year (seriously). And the sports weren’t constantly available on the ESPN family of networks anymore. I didn’t have constant commercials, and I found my desire to know what’s happening in the sports pages just plummeted. I didn’t watch the NFC/AFC Championship games, didn’t watch the College Football playoffs and didn’t really know who was involved. And I think that is a good thing.

Sportsball as my friend Greg Daly calls it, takes a huge amount of attention. If you watch every Red Sox game in a season that is 500 hours of baseball, and that doesn’t even include the pre-game, post-game and sports talk radio. It’s the equivalent of 3 months full of full time work.

Sports makes a ton of money. Especially the NFL in the US, and soccer leagues overseas. Big TV contracts, and big shares on Sundays.

But, the billionaires that own these sports franchises seem to think they are giving a benevolent gift to cities and towns when they have a sports team. The franchises are often worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and often make tens of millions when in a big market. YES Network for the Yankees and NESN for the Red Sox are a huge reason they can afford big payrolls and tend to be among the best teams in baseball every year.

Part of the reason the NFL does well and has balance is there is basically one big pool of income for all of the TV and merchandising rights that are shared.

Yet, these billionaires who have the big shiny that is professional sports want huge, huge taxpayer subsidies. If you build they will come and there will be a huge economic boost to towns. In reality in places like Cincinnati or Phoenix it ends up where cities and counties not only give tens or hundreds of millions to build stadiums but tens of millions to run them every year. Glendale, Arizona spends $25 million a year on operating expenses for the Phoenix Coyotes, in a metropolitan area known for good golf in January. Hamilton County, Ohio which includes Cincinatti according to this Wall Street Journal article spent $540 million in 1996 to build new stadiums for the Reds (MLB) and Bengals (NFL). In 2010 the county spent “$34.6 million—a sum equal to 16.4% of the county budget.” Why? So billionaires could have the county pay for all the costs and operating expenses, while the owners made the money. The line used is about the huge “economic benefit” produced by stadiums. In truth, people go to see a ballgame instead of going to a movie, seeing a show, going camping, etc. There generally is no huge benefit. People drive into the stadiums, pay a fortune to park, see the game, get concessions.. and then go home in the car to their home in the suburbs. It’s madness.

I will give the New York Jets and Giants credit. They built their billion dollar plus stadium with private money. In this case, there is benefits to towns because people spending money on tickets for athletics and concerts and such to spend money in towns. And there isn’t the albatross of huge stadium debt.

I know in Portland, ME, the Portland Pirates, an AHL hockey club (think AAA in baseball), demanded that they get all the beer money in the recently renovated by the county taxpayers Cumberland County Civic Center (CCCC). I have gone to some Pirates games and it was good fun. The stadium wasn’t new but it worked okay. The Pirates weren’t selling out so you could sit close to the ice and watch good hockey. But, the CCCC deserves to make some money on their huge expenditure. Eventually they conceded because they didn’t want to lose the club. Such hardball tactics happen all the time.

For me, I am a Philadelphia sports fan. I have very fond memories of watching Michael Jack Schmidt, still my favorite baseball player, hit home runs at Veterans Stadiums. Critics said it was one of the worst stadiums in professional sports but it is full of good memories for me in the 6-8 times I went there as a kid. New and shiny isn’t necessarily better.

I thought Chicago Stadium which I got to see in it’s last year 1993-1994, unfortunately the year Michael Jordan tried out baseball. But, I remember being in standing room on the 2nd balcony for the last regular season game vs. the Knicks and I was very close to the court. The whole stadium was a city block. There was some obstructed view seats, but it was a great place to watch basketball and I am sure hockey. The new United Center I think is at least 4 times the size. I looked it up 240,000 square feet for Chicago Stadium vs. 960,000 for the United Center. The taxpayers spent millions to have seats that were 4 times farther away, so the rich could have luxury boxes.

Basically, sports leagues are for billionaires like Mark Cuban to have fun. They don’t need taxpayer money. It’s kind of like a lot of corporate welfare in the United States right now. Give millions and billions to the rich, and call them “job creators.” Use the term “trickle down economics” when the money just trickles up into bank accounts. Let’s spend less to give fancy houses to billionare sports franchise owners and more to build houses and help those in need.

edmund

Memories of My Father

I had a huge disruption in my life on April 1, 2013.

Had written everyday in the blog from I think Thankgiving, 2011 into mid-April.

I lost the rock of my life, my father Henry Edmunds Davis.

He always had a twinkle in his eye, incredibly intelligent and grounded with someone who wanted to be a farmer as a kid. He became an agronomist which means a weed scientist and a Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin. I was born in Madison while he was studying. We even had food stamps for a short time while my dad was in school and my mom was a full time mom. We all need help sometimes.

We moved to Dublin, Ohio near Columbus when I was a little kid and my sister was still a toddler around 1977 or so when my dad completed his Ph.D. She as born on June 2, 1976, me on June 23, 1974. I have very happy memories from our time in Ohio. I remember being awed by the coal mine exhibit at the COSI science museum in Columbus. I think there is a groundedness to the midwest that you don’t see in New Jersey and Connecticut but begin to see again in Maine.

We moved to NJ when I was in 1st grade, because my dad got a good job offer at Mobil in NJ. I remember I was way, way ahead in math and had already completed second grade in math at the more self directed private school that my parents took us to Ohio. New Jersey is very different. Beautiful, underrated, but more of a drive to look out and look to keep doing better. I think people sometimes look to get ahead without worrying about others. I think similar things like places like Greenwich, CT and Well Street where money is worshipped over people. I think I always felt like an outsider in New Jersey, even though I ended up going to Montgomery schools all the way through High School. And there are people I have known there for over 30 years now. I am someone who I think feels like an outsider even when I am a regular and I know people. Does anyone else get this feeling?

Unfortunately, not long after dad moved his job ended and he had trouble finding another job so he decided to open a business, the Weed Doctor, doing home lawn care. He did this for decades after and I helped him out in high school and college. We had a lot of bonding there. Like me he had a map of places he has been in his mind. It’s an interesting superpower to have. I think he often charged to little for his services, and certainly had a bunch of characters work for him, some of which embezzled, one of which propositioned me when I was in Junior High School. Which I think affected me for a long time.

His mom lived until 90, and I expected to him to have him so much longer than I did. We didn’t expect brain cancer, I guess nobody does. Got lucky with his first operation. He had 5 good years, and 9 terrible months after his second operation. And I feel like there is nothing I need to say to him, I have no regrets, I just wish he was around so much longer.

It’s amazing how the death of a parents changes you. I have still been very active on social media and am now up to 187 straight days of Three (or way more) Good Things but there is something different about sharing things on WordPress. I have been wanting to get blogging every day for a long time. Hopefully these posts come out a lot more than I got a computer again.

ed

Fear

There is a big storm coming, slow start this afternoon and then time to just be home.

I think we want to do too many things right now.

Have commercials that say guys shouldn’t just watch football on a Sunday, that they need to go to Home Depot for home improvement.

It’s not safe enough out there for children, so parents need to be chauffers for their kids.

It’s terrible to miss a little league game so parents move their schedules everywhere.

This isn’t safe, that’s not safe. It’s paranoia. There is a reason that FDR said “The only thing to fear, it fear itself.” Fear stops us from doing things. Fear of debt, fear of failure, fear of criminals, “stranger danger.”

So we have more cops, more prisons, lock your doors, protect your valuable, there is dangerous stuff out there.

And that can be true, I had my car broken into with tons of stuff for Rites of Spring when I lived in Harlem Heights. I was a naive kid who grew up in a rural/suburban area, where things were very safe. 151st and Broadway is not the place to leave anything in your car. Having things stolen is awful. My wife left an SLR in the car and the door was wide open. Maybe, we forgot, but it’s still terrible. But it’s mostly stuff.

South Park spoofed this in their 611 episode “Child Abduction is Not Funny,” they went to absurdity of the kids being only with Mongolians for all the dangers. And if you look at the statitics, there isn’t that much stranger danger:

Put it another way: The Department of Justice reports that of the 800,000 children reported “missing” in the United States each year, 115 are the result of “stereotypical kidnapping” — a stranger snatching the child. About 90 percent of abductees return home within 24 hours and the vast majority are teenage runaways.

So much work, so many lost opportunities to explore because of a very, very minor danger.

It used to be not long ago that school age kids would get a bike and freedom, running all over the place, doing their own thing, finding themselves.

Not the absurdities of helicopter parenting, where parents are there all the time. They even want to talk to employers for their kids. We need to let kids find their path, not the one you saw for them at 8. Everyone changes.

I guess I am just saying that if you believe things are safer, they become safer.

If you are paranoid all the time, you see things that aren’t there.

Be need to be excellent to each other. It’s getting insane, to the point of people like Doomsday Preppers.

What are your thoughts?

New Computer Wooo!

I am now up to 182 straight days of doing Three Good Things (or way more) posts, but it’s been a long, long time since I have posted in the blog.

I also haven’t had a computer in several months since my monitor died.

Got a new one today. May be a bit underpowered with a Pentium, 4GB and a 500GB hard drive. But it does have a touchscreen, does have a way to navigate songs and mute things and fast forward. And it only cost $289.99 part of which was paid by Christmas gift cards for Amazon.

Still getting used to the wireless keyboard, and wireless remote, but great to have a 19.5″ screen and nice to be able to make webpages bigger with a touch like on a smartphone.

I was dithering forever about getting a new computer, I really did want more memory, more processor and more hard drive but I couldn’t turn down this price for a touchscreen with a nice monitor.

And it really is so much nicer to use a keyboard than a smartphone when you are saying more than a few words, although I am getting much better with my thumbs. Ten fingers is most definitely a more effective way to type.

And I really didn’t use my laptop much out anyway.

I think I will like this new shiny, although if I had $700 I would have gotten the 8GB memory, iCore5, and 1TB Dell I saw for $700. It is definitely a good computer but I think this will do for using Google Chrome and iTunes.

edmund

A Walk in the Woods

This move to Connecticut has been strange for me. I grew to love Portland, Maine. The restaurants, the spirit, the beauty, the breweries, the poetry scene, the people. I liked having my in-laws closeby.

Connecticut is new. I don’t have enough people here and am home so much. Including work, it’s odd to be in a locked office the whole day. It’s also not kitty approved.

But there are beautiful parks and open space here.  We live less than half a mile from the Naugatuck State Forest. So many great walks. I’m looking out tp a clearing at the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path right now, a bird tweeting close and far. There is the Naugatuck Valley, the slopes, the rocks, the Naugatuck and rivers. The Osborndale State Park, even the ocean/ Long Island Sound a half hour away at the Seaside Park in Bridgeport. It’s lovely here. Far more trails and nearby public open space then Westbrook, Maine.

The crickets sing their songs of late summer, insects buzz, cars race. I think I will be very happy here eventually, but I need people.

Glad to have family here this week for Thanksgiving, glad to have a bunch of medical appointments setup, glad to be more settled. But still finding my place, I wish I did leave the house for work and had my old car again.

But, I love the woods, love the quiet, love birdsong, love beauty, as there are a few efferemal warm days before the coming winter.

Edmund

Some Thoughts on the War in Iraq and Terrorism

Was reading this outstanding article about how the word terrorism changes how states can act in the New York Times today “The Reign of ‘Terror'” and I had this response thinking about the War in Iraq that I posted in the comments:

If nothing else the War in Iraq was great at making terrorists. When the US took over Iraq militarily in a few days, a lot of people were prepared to like us. Then we made three terrible ill-considered decisions by morons like L. Paul Bremer. We didn’t protect the museums and sacred sites from looting; we fired the entire Ba’ath Party and removed the civil institutions of government, making things much less governed; and we disbanded the Iraqi Army. Instead of having a functional (if extremely corrupt) government and an army to keep the peace and rebuild, we had a population without governance, and hundreds of thousands of men with jobs and no work.

The war was good for the Kurds without question, and ISIS/ISIL makes it more likely in my view to see a Kurdish state. And we transferred power from the Sunni Ba’ath party to Shiite rule. Instead of being enemies, Iraq and Iran are closer to allies.

Hurting civilians to stop terrorism, just creates state terror, that “terrorists” fight back against like in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. It’s an Orwellian term that makes for many evils.

If you want to read more about the Iraq War see Charles Ferguson’s excellent documentary “No End in Sight.” If you want to see the effects of state terrorism from the Palestinian perspective I highly recommend Joe Sacco’s graphic journalism in “Palestine” and “Footnotes from Gaza.” Excellent piece by Tomis Kapitan in the New York Times.

While posting an update to Facebook about this I added a lot. Here are those thoughts:

It takes a surreal world for a “War on Terror” to create terrorists, but that is definitely what happened in Iraq. Was reading an excellent post in the New York Times earlier today called “The Reign of ‘Terror'” and this blogpost is mainly my comment. The Iraq War ended a strong dictatorial state run by a stalinist in Saddam Hussein and created a power vacuum with 3 people that don’t get along: the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunnis. With Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party the Sunnis had control and were vicious to Shiites in Iraq and Iran and evil to Kurdish people. The end of the Iraq War has created a virtual Kurdistan in Northern Iraq and a country ruled by the Shiites for now. And the radical Sunnis are now part of ISIS. Be careful of a power vacuum. I thought earlier it was the new Yugoslavia, Tito vs. Hussein but the current states of the former Yugoslavia, especially Slovenia and Croatia are much stronger states than modern Iraq. Will be curious to see what the coming years bring. It’s not good now.

Iraq is a mess. It’s not going to be pretty. I really hope that Kurdistan becomes it’s own state. Turkey helping the Kurds against ISIS now is a big deal. I think at some point the rest of Iraq may break up as well but that’s not clear. Kurdistan is already close to a self governed state already.

Tuesdays in Connecticut

Tuesday is one of my favorite days here.

A day off.

And a chance to have the car and explore. I got rid of the 99 Mercury Sable before leaving Maine due to a myraid of repair reasons.

But on Tuesday, I wake up, drop off Lanna at work, often go for a walk and eat breakfast.

So far I have discovered the Seaside Park in Bridgeport, the beaches in Stratford, CT, the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path at several points, the Ansonia Nature Center and adjoining Naugatuck State Forest.

Also the wacky Roosevelt Tower and the cool Books at the Falls both in Derby. The gorgeous fields of the Osbornedale State Park. The delicious bagels of Royal Bakery in Shelton, the amazing corned beef hash at Pagliaro’s Lunch. The little hole in the wall Jamiacan place, the Rootsman Kitchen in Bridgeport, CT.

Connecticut is a wonderful place to explore.

I would love to have a car again and eventually will, but the act of dropping Lanna off gives me the chance to explore. Maybe the Indian Well State Park in Shelton this morning after a delicious bagel at the Royal Bakery.

Tuesdays are good days for me. Although I do miss going to the Port Veritas poetry reading. I still get the invites and see a bunch of poets I would like to hear. Like John Sinclair tonight and my friend Robin Merrill last week.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux

I had a wonderful day. Got up at 4am, which may seem crazy but it’s when I got to get up tomorrow (or today since I am writing this on Sunday evening and posting it for Monday morning).

Two hour walk around Ansonia and the Ansonia Brass and Cooper site (formerly The American Brass Company) which will be going away soon. Took maybe 100 pictures with my phone. Was beautiful to see the sunrise.

Wasn’t sure what I wanted to blog about.

Saw a link somewhere called “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux” I was a a big fan of his. Control pitcher, pitched fast. Didn’t get showy. Amazing to watch.

I liked him since he played with the Cubs. Although I am a Phillies fan always loved watching Greg Maddux even thought he was on the Phillies big rival team, the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s.

But this article was not about Greg Maddux. It was about an incredibly talented friend. A lost talent. So much potential. So much alcohol.

SCOUTING REPORT: Jason Kenney, age 19, by Boyhood Friend & College Roommate Collins

Height: 6’2, Weight: 216, DOB: 1/9/77. Home: Atlanta, Georgia.

Abilities: Three-Sport Athlete. Center Fielder, Georgia Little League World Series team, 1990; Fullback and Tight End, Atlanta Colts Pop Warner Football National Champions, 1991; Guard and Small Forward, Dunwoody High School, Georgia High School Basketball Champions, Undefeated, Ranked No. 3 by USA Today, 1995.

A “natural.” Hyper-competitive. Crazy instinctive touch and feel. Inspires envy.

Once bowled a 290 in Rome, Georgia while consuming 2 1/2 pitchers of Bud Light.

Weakness: Lacks control (drinking). Dismissed from basketball team two days before state title game — showed up drunk (again) to school. Binge drinking since age 14.

Jason and his friend Jeremy Collins loved the Atlanta Braves and Greg Maddux.

Greg Maddux who had such beautiful control as a pitcher and worked on it with a famous baseball coach when a scot at 18 said: “Weakness: Lacks control on all his pitches. Just has to get ahead of hitters more often.”

We have so many weaknesses as teenagers.

Seventy one days sober. Let’s celebrate. Six miles from their destination. Didn’t stop with just one pitcher. Car flips, he survives, his friend doesn’t, only 19.

Stunningly beautiful writing. A tale of control and loss of control. One night out, lost potential a lost friend. And Greg Maddux who had amazing control. Addiction hurts. So many lives and relationships are lost without control. I give my love to anyone working to leave addiction and to those lost. Powerful. #longform

For We Have Been Touched by Magic

There is a line in a chant we using at the closing circle at Rites of Spring, a pagan gathering we go to every Memorial Day weekend in the Berkshires called Rites of Spring. “For we have been touched by magic, and the magic will make us whole.”

Maine is beautiful, it’s a special place. Portland is a magical city.

But since we have moved to North State Street in Ansonia, CT the place ahs been touched by magic. When my wife saw the two benches in the gravel she immediately thought it was a Fairie garden. It seemed touched with something special.

The song of crickets at night makes my soul happy. All of the beautiful rocks. The old trees. The old houses. It’s beautiful.

The amazing view across the valley, special. Seeing insects lit up by the late evening sun looking like little fairies.

Bees loving the wildflowers, playing with the pollen and being happy.

The world would be a better place if we planted gardens over grass. Better for the local wildlife. Prettier. Food during the harvest. Canning. Old ways.

Also less gas used, less sameness, less blah.

Not sure when planned communities in beige with bizarre homeowners association rules and sameness became desirable.

Feeling touched by magic in the local forest. I am a forest person.

Going from the beautiful Ansonia Nature Center and exploring off trail into the Naugatuck State Forest. Getting lost, feeling the spirit of the trees, stumps and old rocks. Feeling the energy of the land. I am feeling deeply connected here.

Who know I may have some roots here. My ancestors in America go back a long way, a lot fo them in the 17th and 18th Century. I know I have some roots in Mexico, Maine wondering if I have roots in the valley.

This area built things. Rivers like the Naugatuck, and the Presumpcot which goes through Westbrook, Maine and was the most dammed river in the US per mile not long ago, were industrial corridors. The United States, used to build things. Ansonia was a copper center, Waterbury a center of Brass, Westbrook a paper town, tires made in the Valley working people.

Beautiful old mills, sometimes destroyed, sometimes converted to beautiful use. Like the North Dam Mill in Biddeford, ME and the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook, Maine.

I heard a rumor while fixing my car that the huge copper mills in Ansonia are due to be torn down too. I hope they are made into a park. I would rather they were converted into something cool and beautiful. I need to ride the Metro North to Waterbury and go through them before they go.

I have heard everyone in Derby and Ansonia knows each other. I need to get into those circles and I think I will be a lot happier. It’s a matter of time.

I do like the neighborhood and it’s a special place. And touched by magic.

eddie

Blogtober

My friend Margaret Finch is one of the better bloggers I know. And she is trying to blog every day in October. I am very tempted. I miss the blog. I miss thinking about it everyday.

So I think I will try it and maybe start by adding to some of my good things posts every day on Facebook.

That way I can get the first three days in.

I certainly write enough to blog on the Facebooks.

So why not and let’s see how it goes.

eddie