Friday, October 14, 2011

The Lights in the Land of Plenty

Just a few random thoughts for Friday the 14th.

First, as someone who listened to Terry Francona's postmortem press conference fourteen days ago I was impressed at that briefing just how much of a players' manager he remained - right to the bitter end. He was peppered by questions regarding reports of members of his pitching staff drinking beer in the clubhouse during games (other than those they pitched of course - although given how Lackey's season went allowing him to down a cold one between hitters might not have had a measurable impact on performance) and regarding the general "We Don't Give a Crap" attitude of certain of his players. Francona held his tongue. He did not name names. He did not kick anyone in the balls on his way out the door.

A favor that has not been returned in kind by my favorite kind of person - "the unnamed source". In a front-page story that ran in the Boston Globe earlier this week, the band-aid was pulled off of Tito's various and sundry wounds - and with considerable force. I am not certain but I think that upon further review Terry Francona was not only culpable in the immolation of the 2011 Red Sox season but also in the Boston Tea Party and the Presidential campaigns of Dukakis and Kerry in '88 and '04 respectively. Amazing stuff.

Five words for the safe-droppers in the Sox organization: Joe Torre - The Yankee Years. You might want to pick up a copy at Francona sounded damn comfortable with a microphone in front of him during Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS, sitting in a broadcast booth and chatting with Joe Buck. I am confident that when Tom Verducci drops a like recording device in front of him, which will produce Terry Francona - The Conflagration of Red Sox Nation just in time for Xmas 2012, Francona will sound just as smooth and relaxed.

Second, when time permits go out and grab yourself a copy of The Wizard of Oz. You do not have to subject yourself to watching the entire film, which personally I hate (no surprise I suppose as one of the few people my age I know who has never endured a single frame of ET: The Extra-Terrestrial), but only the portions of the film set in Kansas. Notice please how little of Kansas is actually shown. Other than Dotty's farm where she and Toto live with Auntie Em and whatever the hell her Uncle's name is (Ben? No wait, he's the rice guy) and some non-descript farm road that the witch rides her bicycle on before Dot catches the last Cape Cod to Oz, we see no Kansas.

The older I get, the more I grasp the notion that was by deliberate design. Kansas is after all the home base of operation for Fred Phelps and the Wasteboro Bastards Church. Apropos of nothing, if you have not seen it then check out the video of Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters serenading Freddie's F-tard followers last month when the latter showed up to protest at a Foo Fighters show.

The recent news out of Kansas suggests that Phelps and his band of knuckle-draggers might not even be the dumbest denizens of that particular postal code. Nope. That honor appears to rest with the people elected by the residents of Topeka, Kansas (coincidentally the home base for Westboro Baptist) to represent them on the Topeka City Council.

Presumably women vote in Topeka. I have never studied their voter registration statistics but presumably at least one woman makes it to the polling place on Election Day. If they have been reticent about showing up, the good people on the City Council might have just given them the ammunition for the best "Get Out the Vote" campaign ever:

On Tuesday night [October 11], the city council of Topeka repealed the local law that lists domestic violence as a crime, in turn making any actions that would have previously necessitated police involvement a matter of the state of Kansas, who the council says must rely on the county to enforce the charges. The county district attorney, however, has already stopped prosecuting would-be criminals citing budget shortfalls of their own.

It turns out that the Topeka City Council and the Shawnee County District Attorney's Office had been engaged in a high-stakes game of "Budgetary Chicken" for the past month. In September, with his office pared a bit due to budget cuts, D.A. Chad Taylor announced that his office would no longer prosecute misdemeanors including domestic violence cases, which placed the financial responsibility for furnishing the resources needed to prosecute D.V. cases on the Topeka City Council. It responded by decriminalizing those cases. If domestic violence is not a crime, then we do not have to pay for it! So there!

Such forward thinking resulted in the immediate release of 18 individuals who had been arrested for and were presumably going to be proscuted for domestic violence offenses, including one who upon being released committed the same offense and was rearrested only a few hours later. It also struck the world outside of the four walls of the offices of D.A. Taylor and the Topeka City Council as less of an example of forward thinking and more of an affront to thinking altogether. On Wednesday, D.A. Taylor cried, "Uncle" (and had he added the name of Dotty's uncle I would have been all the more pleased) and announced that his office will go back to prosecuting D.V. complaints. Taylor, in an incredible display of covering his own ass while talking out of his mouth, released the following statement:

"My office now retains sole authority to prosecute domestic battery misdemeanors and will take on this responsibility so as to better protect and serve our community," Taylor said in a statement. "We will do so with less staff, less resources, and severe constraints on our ability to effectively seek justice."

Remind me again why it was Dotty and Toto were in such a hurry to get home? They would have been better off living with the Flying Monkeys.

Final thought: tomorrow is the "All 80's Reunion" for alumni of the Wardlaw-Hartridge School. My former classmate Emilie Rinaldo Marvosa (now you know why I just call her "Em" - hey I wonder if she is an Aunt...) has done yeoman's work in putting it all together. If you are someone who pops by this space who graduated from W-H between 1980 and 1989 and want to attend this reunion, then go to this site and buy a ticket. And if you are there tomorrow night, I shall see you....

....unless you see me first. I will be easy to spot. I will be the fellow in the stylish three-piece suit, which shall have a carnation in its lapel.


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