A Really Bad Interview

Here’s an example of a really bad interview.

The sports editor of the Grand Valley State University student newspaper was doing an interview with the football team’s new offensive coordinator and asked the coach to name three non-football historical figures he’d like to have dinner with.  According to news reports, the coach responded as follows:

interesting-hitler-health-fact“This is probably not going to get a good review, but I’m going to say Adolf Hitler.  It was obviously very sad and he had bad motives, but the way he was able to lead was second-to-none. How he rallied a group and a following, I want to know how he did that. Bad intentions of course, but you can’t deny he wasn’t a great leader.”

(The coach also named John F. Kennedy and Christopher Columbus as his two other historical dining companions, in case you’re interested.)

Of course, Hitler directed the genocidal murder of millions of Jews and was the direct cause of a worldwide war that killed additional millions and left his country a crushed and ruined shell, and his brutal and repressive regime has left an indelible moral stain on the German people.  That’s not what most people would view as the record of a great leader, but the legacy of a seriously disturbed psychopath.  Not surprisingly, Grand Valley State University promptly suspended the coach, and he then resigned.  In a statement posted on social media, he said:  “In a poor effort to give an outside-the-box answer to a question, I mistakenly communicated something absurd,” and added: “There is no justifiable excuse — it was insensitive and not my intent.”

So what in the world was he thinking?

Best In The State

What makes a great sports bar?  You know, the kind of place where you want to go watch your favorite team play a game?

screen-shot-2016-06-04-at-2.58.35-pm-470x220-1Clearly, there are some basic elements.  Great sports bars aren’t white tablecloth and fine china venues.  You’re looking for tasty food favorites at reasonable prices, an ample selection of beers to stoke your competitive spirit, and a friendly and attentive wait staff that won’t leave your glass bone dry during the key part of the game.  You want to have plenty of TV screens in the room, so any table or chair will have good sight lines to the screen carrying your game of choice.  And, equally important, you’re looking for an energetic atmosphere and a setting with lots of fans watching their games, where you won’t be shushed for letting out a cheer, giving a few high-fives, or blurting out a random curse at a bad play.

Whatever the qualities that make a great sports bar, JT’s Pizza & Pub here in Columbus clearly has them all.  The MSN website just named JT’s the best sports bar in Ohio.  Given the sports-obsessed culture in Ohio, that’s incredibly high praise, but it’s really not surprising.  JT’s has great pizza, appetizers, wings, and sandwiches — exactly the kind of fare you want from a sports bar — an extensive beer and drink menu, and a raucous atmosphere come Game Day.  Stop by for an Ohio State game, an NFL Sunday, or March Madness if you don’t believe me.

Congratulations to my nephew Joe, the proprietor of JT’s, and my nephew Danny, who works there, for making JT’s into a sports bar that has won Best in the State honors.

Those Little Routines

Over the years I’ve always used some kind of coin container.  When I was in college, I used a large glass jar as the repository for pocket change — until one day the glass broke from the accumulated weight of the coins, and I switched to a smaller jar.  I’ve also used metal cans.  Now I use a nice wooden box that Kish got me long ago.

But whether the container is glass, or metal, or wood, the concept is the same:  when you come home, you empty your pockets.  in my case, the house keys go on the top of the dresser, the cell phone gets set down on the cordless charger contraption, and any loose change goes into the coin box.  It’s one of the little organizing principles that many of us use to order our lives and establish our small, personal routines.  Those little routines can add comforting structure to your day, and also mean you don’t have to go tearing the house apart looking for your keys and phone and glasses every morning.

Years ago, the change containers used to fill up a lot more quickly, because I would always pay for my lunches and small purchases with cash, and bringing home change was a nightly occurrence.  Now that using a payment card has become my most common form of payment, I often end the work day with no change at all — but habit makes me check my pockets for change, just the same.  The reduction of change in our lives is another simple sign that the economy is changing, and our personal practices are changing along with it.

But I still pay for some things with cash, and even if it takes longer than before, the change box gets filled.  Last night I noticed that the box is filled, again, so it’s time to empty it out, fill up the old-fashioned paper coin sleeves, and take them to the bank to add another $34 to the account and feel the satisfaction of saving.  That’s what will be on the schedule for tonight, and I’m kind of looking forward to it.

 

Kobe Bryant

The reaction to the tragic death of basketball great Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and others in a helicopter crash on Friday has been amazing, and overwhelming.  The crash, and the reaction to the crash, has been the lead story on many news websites over the past few days, featured even over stories about the spread of coronavirus and coverage of the ongoing impeachment trial in the Senate.

https3a2f2fcdn.cnn_.com2fcnnnext2fdam2fassets2f160414010423-kobe-bryantI’m not an NBA fan, and I didn’t really follow Bryant’s career, so I would not have predicted the outpouring of often emotional responses to Bryant’s death.  The Los Angeles Times, for example, has a continuously updated page with links of dozens and dozens of articles giving multiple reactions to the tragedy and Bryant’s death from fans, celebrities, American athletes, international sports stars, cultural figures, politicians, and others, as well as coverage of the crash and stories about other aspects of Bryant’s life.   To give you an idea of the depth of the coverage, one of the Times articles posted on the page notes that the chaplain of the United States Senate spoke of the death of Bryant, his daughter, and others in his prayer before the start of yesterday’s impeachment trial proceedings.

Bryant’s legacy is complicated by his criminal case and the perception by some that he was a selfish player, but the reaction to his death shows that, for some people at least, he became a lot more than that.  His impact on basketball was undeniable — even now, playground players evidently call out “Kobe!” when a player makes a clutch or seemingly impossible shot — and he obviously was an inspirational figure to his fans.  His support for women’s basketball and the WNBA, his outreach and encouragement to fellow athletes in basketball and other sports, his sponsorship of a studio, and his other political and social activities broadened his impact still more.  He obviously touched many people in a special way, and the fact that he died young, and in a tragic accident, compounds the impact of his death.

As I read the articles about Kobe Bryant, I found myself wondering how many other sports figures, or cultural figures, or celebrities, would elicit that kind of response.  I’m guessing not many.

With All Deliberate Speed

People who rely on governmental services get used to waiting.  You fill out a form and then wait for weeks, or months, or even years before the ponderous bureaucratic machinery moves forward and action is taken.

13nfnuBut even by slow governmental standards, the city of Winnipeg, Canada moves at a glacial pace.

On January 26, 1993, a city snow removal machine smashed up the curb outside the house of Calvin Hawley.  Hawley promptly made a complaint to the city, so that someone could come out to fix the curb.  The city promised repairs.  When nothing happened, he continued to call.  At one point, the city told him that its system for logging complaints had changed, and all of his prior communications about the broken curb had been lost.  But Hawley was undeterred in his campaign to cure the curb.

In 2017, when city work crews appeared on his street, Hawley thought his day had come.  Alas!  The city workers were there to fix other, more recently damaged broken curb sections.  It just added insult to injury.  So Hawley filed an electronic complaint, which allowed him to track when the repairs to the curb would move forward.

Last year, Hawley got his answer:  his curb will be repaired by June 26, 2037 — which would be more than 44 years after the city snow plow first crushed it.  44 years!  Think about that the next time you moan about having to wait in line at the BMV.

Welcome Back From NYC

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is viewed as a likely candidate for mayor of New York City in 2021, apparently is upset about gentrification and displacement.  During a recent speech at a Martin Luther King Day celebration, Adams made some controversial remarks on the topic that made mention of Ohio.

12016738035_d242e539fc_bAccording to a Washington Post report on his remarks, Adams complimented long-time residents, saying:  “You were here before Starbucks.  You were here before others came and decided they wanted to be part of this city. Folks are not only hijacking your apartments and displacing your living arrangements, they displace your conversations and say that things that are important to you are no longer important.”  The Post article reports that Adams then turned to the topic of recent arrivals to New York, and said:  “Go back to Iowa.  You go back to Ohio! New York City belongs to the people that [were] here and made New York City what it is.”  The article also states that Adams said: “You are not going to enjoy this city, and watch the displacement of the people who made this city.”

Gentrification and displacement are serious issues, and obviously Adams feels strongly about them.  Still, telling recent arrivals to get out of town doesn’t exactly seem like a thoughtful and measured response to the issues — even by blunt New York political standards — and a Martin Luther King Day celebration seems like an especially ill-suited forum for delivering that kind of negative message.

Since Adams is urging people to go back to Ohio, I just want to note that Columbus, and other parts of Ohio, would be happy to welcome transplanted New Yorkers — and anyone else who wants to come to a place where they won’t be judged by how long their family has lived in town.  We think that Columbus belongs to whoever lives here and wants to be part of our community.