Dzhokhar, On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone magazine is featuring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, on the cover of its next issue.  The decision to make Dzhokhar the Cover Boy has some people in the social media very riled.

They think the cover photo makes Tsarnaev into a rock star and glams up an accused terrorist.  Rolling Stone defends the cover, saying the story is legitimate journalism that explores how a young man, in the same age range as many Rolling Stone readers, became involved in a “tragedy.”  (I’m not sure that “tragedy” is quite the right word to describe an intentional bombing specifically designed to kill innocents, but let’s pass on that issue.)  The headline on the cover says:  “THE BOMBER:  How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam, and Became a Monster.”

I’m not quite grasping what the big deal is.  I’m not falling for the Rolling Stone statement about “serious journalism” as a justification for the decision.  You could do a serious piece about Tsarnaev without putting his tousled mug on the cover.  I’m sure Rolling Stone, like every other magazine, hopes that the cover will attract the eye of casual newsstand browsers and lead to increased sales.  There’s nothing wrong with that; Rolling Stone just doesn’t want to admit it.  The fact that the cover already has become controversial and provoked lots of chatter probably was something the magazine was hoping for, too.

But really — who cares if Tsarnaev is on the cover of Rolling Stone?  Do people really believe that anyone will become a terrorist in hopes that he, too, will make a magazine cover?  And what’s with the “glorification” argument?  Tsarnaev’s cover photo has already been on the front page of just about every news website; I don’t remember any outcry about glamming then.  Are people really arguing that, any time a terrorist act is committed, newspapers and websites can’t publish a photo that makes the suspect look like anything other than a deranged killer?  That seems silly.

So let Rolling Stone publish its piece, and let it try to sell a few extra magazines in doing so.  I’d like to see some real digging into what happened to the Tsarnaev brothers, to see whether there is something we can do to prevent the next terrorist attack.  Maybe if Rolling Stone sells out this issue, more journalists will cover that very important story.

That Lofty Season Ticket Holder Status

When I saw the FedEx box this afternoon I suspected, and when I looked at the return address of 100 Alfred Lerner Way, Cleveland, Ohio  44114, I knew.  Russell’s and my 2013 Cleveland Browns season tickets had arrived.

As I walked into the house, clutching the FedEx box, I moved with a special spring in my step.  There is a certain status in being a Season Ticket Holder.  Sure enough, when I ripped open the box I saw firsthand the benefits of STH status.

IMG_4224There were two genuine orange and brown Cleveland Browns knit scarves.  (Sorry, but it’s 96 degrees in Columbus today, so I’m not going to try one on.)  There was a season ticket holder rewards card that gives a discount at every Browns team store.  There were some buy one, get one free coupons.  There was a season ticket holder information guide that identified my guest relations team by photos, names, telephone numbers, and email addresses.  I hope I never have to bother Rico, Brian, John, and Lisa, but it’s nice to know they are there and I’ve got their numbers if there’s a problem.  There’s a 2013 AFC North Preview.  I don’t need to read it; I’ll hate the Ravens no matter what it says.

And then there are the tickets, which are big and glossy and came in a nifty First Energy Stadium folder.  Each different game ticket has a raised depiction of different Browns players, current and former.  I can envision holding the tickets in a gloved hand as Russell and I enter the Stadium for a late November or December game, ready to cheer on the Brownies as they fight for home field advantage heading into the AFC playoffs.

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?  That’s what getting season tickets is all about.

The Feel Of A ’60s Summer

When you woke up to the thrum of the window fan, the day was full of possibility.  There were no plans, or schedules, or adult-supervised activities on the calendar.  There was no calendar.  It was July, and high summer.  It had been weeks since school ended and would be weeks before school began again, and the summer felt like it would last forever.

You pulled on a striped t-shirt and shorts, because that’s what everybody wore, and laced up your Red Ball Jets, because everyone knew they made you run faster and jump higher.  You raced downstairs and ate some Frosted Flakes, happy that it was summer and hot and your Mom wouldn’t make you eat a “hot breakfast” like oatmeal.  Then you and your brother said “Bye, Mom!” and charged out the back door, looking for your friends in the neighborhood.  They weren’t hard to find.  It seemed like every family had three, four, or five kids.

00019750So you’d round up the gang, and then talk about what to do.  The days were immense and wide open, ready to be filled by whatever you could think of.  Maybe you’d play baseball, or “army.”  Maybe you’d work on that fort you all were building in the woods behind the Shantzs’ house.  You could climb a tree, or see who could throw a crab apple the farthest.  Maybe you’d go exploring down by the creek and hunt for crawdads.  You could take your bike to the top of the Leahys’ hill, which had to be as tall as the Rockies, then coast down, feeling the momentum build until you were really flying, and see how far you could go without pedaling.  And if it was especially hot you could always take a dip in one of those plastic above-ground pools people kept on their patios, or drink cool water straight from a garden hose and maybe spray your friends while you were doing so.

You felt the sun on your scalp.  You felt dust on your skin and dried mud from the creek bed on your knees and the cool grass between your toes.  You felt the sticky drippings from a cherry Popsicle on your hands and the residue of bubble gum on your cheek.  When twilight finally came, and the lightning bugs came out, you felt the cooler air and the goosebumps on your arms because it was just so much fun to be outside with your friends in the gathering darkness.

And when bedtime finally came, you fell asleep to the thrum of the window fan, hot and happy and hoping that tomorrow would be another day just like today.