Sunday Morning Coffee — March 24, 2024 — Sunday Morning Scramble

Sobering. In a week of March Madness, Springsteen in concert and Aaron Rodgers a long way from being finished, according to Aaron Rodgers, one of the more meaningful perks of being a synagogue president, flip side of chipped paint, leaking faucets and of course sugar free desserts, happened Monday night. I was privileged to moderate a ‘community discussion’ at our temple with Eran Doron, mayor of Ramat HaNegev in Israel. Ramat HaNegev is an Israeli Regional Council comprised of 20 villages and a population of 8,000 residents. We visited that Las Vegas sister community in June and spent a wonderful and joyous night hosted by Ramat HaNegev students, teachers and residents at the local high school. That joy is no more. The high school was used as a military command center following 10/7. Now the community lives in fear and mourning. Mayor Doron was candid with the 200 or so on hand at our Temple Sinai. He said prior to October 7 Israel was so conflicted and distracted between judicial reform and internal politics they took their collective eyes off the border ball and were surprised by the attack. Hamas knew what they were doing and when to strike. Now the key word is determination, and the mayor has no doubt Israel will prevail. Any hope of a two-state solution is undoubtedly gone; Israel will do what it has always done— aggressively defend itself and its people. An eye opening, rewarding evening. Shalom.

Israeli Mayor Eran Doron.

According to the Wall Street Journal the joke around Jerusalem these days is following the October 7 massacre President Biden pledged support to Israel, but he is now working toward a two-state solution. They say that Mr. Biden’s idea of that two-state solution is carrying Michigan and Nevada in November.

And one more Biden note. It might not be a bad idea for the president to go back to the University of Delaware for a bit of a brush-up course in Religion 101. Last week he said he was going to have a “come to Jesus” talk with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a cease fire in Gaza. The president might have a much better shot at getting Bibi’s attention with a ‘come to Moses’ conversation. Just sayin’.

You don’t know the name Shigeichi Negishi, but chances are you either love or hate the late Japanese electronics exec for his entrepreneurship. In 1967 he invented the ‘Sparko Box’, a sing-along device recognized as the earliest Karaoke machine. Mr. Negishi died on January 26 at the age of 100.

Has there ever been a better sponsor for a Senior PGA golf tournament than the Cologuard Classic in Tucson?

LeBron James has played over 1,700 NBA regular season and playoff games but never an average one. He has a career average stat line of 27 points, seven assists and seven rebounds per game. Defying odds, LeBron has never had a game in which he scored 27 points, seven assists and seven rebounds.

Really glad to read the Dartmouth University men’s basketball team has decided to unionize joining the Service Employees International Union. I can’t wait until they walk-off and picket because the coach wanted to run a man-to-man defense and the players insisted on a zone.

Steve & Eydie back in the day.

Popular singer Steve Lawrence died earlier this month at age 88 from complications of Alzheimer’s. He was a mainstay of the Silent Generation or the Traditionalist Generation or whatever you want to call the era of our parents. The son of a cantor in Brooklyn, he got it honest and grew up wanting to be nothing but a singer. He married Eydie Gorme in 1957 and the duo entertained audiences for the next half century. Ms. Gorme passed away in 2013. Steve and Eydie’s niche was their great combination of big band, swing, traditional pop and even some doo-wop. I vividly remember my family going to Vegas for Mom and Dad’s 30th anniversary in 1979. The marquee event of the weekend according to Dad was all of us going to see Steve and Eydie at the Desert Inn. The night had disaster written all over it when the maitre’d ignored my father’s lobbying for a good table to celebrate their anniversary instead of the traditional twenty dollar bill slipped into his palm. He sat the six of us in a round booth up against the back wall. Dad was furious. We finally calmed him down pointing out how easy it was to leave after the show with the exit just a few feet away. We’d be the first ones out. Music to Dad’s ears. In no time it became the best seat in the joint. Thanks Steve (and Eydie) for the joy you brought to all of our parents for so many years.

I’m certain there is some logic to this but what it might be totally escapes me. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that effective April 1, despite California’s statewide minimum wage of $16 per hour, fast food restaurants that are part of a chain with at least 60 locations nationwide, not just in California, must pay their workers at least $20 an hour. If somehow you understand that, it gets even more bizarre as the law doesn’t apply to restaurants that have their own bakeries to make and sell bread as a stand-alone menu item. I know California is out-there on a lot of things but in this case, huh?

Nadal slows things down so Michael Douglas, blue sweater, can finish a text; Bruce, Stevie and E Street return decades later to rock Vegas.

Value or no value? A few Sundays ago, on their way to play in the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, CA, Rafael Nadal and world number one Carlos Alvarez stopped in Vegas for a made-for-television exhibition called the Netflix Slam. It sold out Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena with over 10,000 on hand. Average price was $500 per ducat, for a meaningless match. It was slated as a two-setter and a 10 point tie-break if the two sets were split. Scripted right out of WWE headquarters, Nadal won the first set, Alvarez the second and to a tie-break we went. Alvarez won it 14-12. Actually, the event turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable. Many local tennis fans decided to skip the exhibition and instead head four hours across the desert to Indian Wells to see Nadal play for real. The day before his opening match, with patrons’ tickets already secured and non-refundable hotels booked, he withdrew. Made the $500 per for those Nadal fans in Vegas a bit easier to swallow.

Any musical group worth a guitar pick plays Las Vegas. Some for one night, others for the new buzz word of a residency. Except for Bruce Springsteen. The last time the Boss and his E Streeters were here was over 20 years ago in 2002. They played the biggest arena in town two decades ago— the Thomas and Mack Center on the UNLV campus. Since then about 100,000 more seats have been added in multiple new venues and anybody who is anybody and a bunch of nobody’s come through town to play. Well, Springsteen returned on Friday night packing T-Mobile Arena. And for locals it was worth the wait. He and the band were phenomenal. A 21-song set topped by seven more in the encore. Three hours and never taking a break. Max Weinberg celebrated Shabbat as good as always on the drums. Stevie Van Zandt incredible. And Jake Clemons did his dad proud. For the first time, in a long time, I wasn’t the oldest one in a room. Bruce at 74 looks great, his voice maybe the best ever and he can actually walk around without having to grab a handrail for balance. Over 20,000 in the building and virtually everyone knew every word to every song. We had premium seats that were about a hundred dollars less for the pair then the tennis exhibition. He led off the encore with Viva Las Vegas. The building shook. So did the Vegas Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup banner in the rafters. An incredibly fun night that easily justified getting to sleep two hours past our bedtime. At least I kept telling my groggy self that at the gym on Saturday morning.

Thumbs up to the state of Alabama, a college football hotbed, for qualifying four teams in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. A heck of an accomplishment. Thumbs down to the tournament selection committee for placing the teams as far away from Dixie as seemingly possible. If you are a backer of Alabama, Auburn or UAB and wanted to be on hand to root for your side, you needed to travel 2,253 miles to Spokane, Washington, only 11 hours and two plane changes from Birmingham. Airfare was a very budget friendly $1,200. Samford University, in Birmingham, comparatively stayed almost local only being sent 1,771 miles to Salt Lake City, Utah. On the same weekend there were games also played below the Mason-Dixon in Charlotte, 392 miles, and Memphis, 245 miles, both an easy drive for any of the four schools’ boosters. Auburn, UAB and Samford went a long way for a short stay, ousted in the first round. Only Alabama hung around for the weekend.

Appropriately for March Madness, today’s ticket stub of days-gone-by is from 54 years ago, the 1970 NIT Final at Madison Square Garden. In those days the NIT and competing NCAA tournaments were considered equal in prestige. Marquette University, ranked eighth in the country, did not accept their NCAA bid because they didn’t want to play in Fort Worth, Texas, which to Marquette head coach Al McGuire might as well have been Spokane. So instead, he opted to put his team in the NIT where they made it to the championship game in McGuire’s hometown of New York City. Fellow basketball junkie Phil Mark and I were there, sitting in the first row of the Garden’s 2nd Promenade, better known as the Green seats, for $5.50. Marquette, led by future Knick Dean Meminger won the title easily dispatching St. John’s 65-53. It was St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca’s last game before moving to the ABA’s New York Nets. Two games were on the bill that day with the NIT third place game starting at 11 am — LSU against Army. LSU’s Pete Maravich injured his ankle in the semifinal against Marquette and didn’t play, finishing his senior year with a 44.5 point scoring average. Army won the consolation 75-68 with a young head coach named Bob Knight barking orders from the sideline.

So, J-E-T-S quarterback Aaron Rodgers, 40, no longer preoccupied by running for vice president or hosting Jeopardy! says he wants to play for four more seasons. Which no doubt prompted Joe Biden to think, ‘Come on man, you’re too old for this.’

The two-time WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces became the first team in WNBA history to sell out their entire season ticket allotment with 8,600 tickets claimed for the upcoming ‘24-25 season. It’s time for the NBA to come calling.

Really, this can’t be happening. Sleazy, yet clearly not disgraced, ex-congressman George Santos has announced he will run once again for his New York House seat.

Finally, wishing safe trails to Raffi Yozgadlian. Raffi was my yoga master for the past couple of years. Instead of fruitlessly attempting to fine tune my conventional practice of yoga, he never showed frustration and allowed me to do it my way — aka royga.  Raffi, may your new life and adventures in Bali be all you hope they’ll be. Namaste my friend.

11 Comments

  • Ken Rich says:

    Always a pleasure to read your blog. Good luck with your picks.

  • Paul Metlin says:

    Loved sitting in the hospital reading your Sunday Morning coffee piece, totally enjoyable even at 3:17am in the morning getting almost no sleep. Love ya buddy!

  • Phil Mark says:

    I remember that 1970 NIT…our $5.50 ticket would cost $44 in today’s prices…helluva deal, given how much tickets cost now for major events. Al Maguire’s coaching/recruiting philosophy, Work Smart Not Hard, left a lasting impression on me in my future careers. Steve and Edie, Westbury Music Fair, 1965? With your neighbor, Jesse. Thx for another trip down Memory Lane

  • Allen says:

    Steve & Eydie was a running joke in our family since my parents always wanted to see them in Vegas.

  • Linda says:

    Another great read!! Sweet of you to mention Raffi as he will be missed!!!!

  • Lew Matusow says:

    Seriously?

    Your (now world famous) ‘let’s sit close to the exit’ obsession started in 1979? And it’s because your dad didn’t slip the maitre’d a $20 ? Does your therapist know the origins of this Snagglepuss (exit, stage right) impersonation?

    Great stuff, as usual, RB.

    Man, that kid can write!

  • Dennis Stein says:

    Went to Springsteen concert – awesome.
    Saw him at Thomas and Mack 20 years ago – it was a lot less expensive!!
    Going to see UNLV beat Boston College tonight and get into the NIT quarterfinals. GO REBELS!
    Trivia question- Who was the only school to win both the NCAA and the NIT in the same year?
    CCNY – my Alma Mata.

  • Greg Cherok says:

    Your Steve & Eydie story brought back a great memory for me. Back in the 70’s I took my parents to see Phyllis Diller at a now defunct nightclub in Tampa. I did use the twenty-dollar bill in the Maitre’ d’s palm. Table right up front. She was hilarious! As we were right in front of the microphone she started to needle my dad. He took in good stride, and I’ve never seen my mom laugh and enjoy herself as she did that night. We still talked about that night years later of the fun we all had.

  • Roy Abrams says:

    Fabulous Blog FIILLED with “stuff” that is so “you”.

    The most interesting impossible fact is the Lebron statistic. How do you find these gems?
    And…the odds of that statistic happening…?

  • Lori Rubin says:

    I love Royga! I’ll ask my teacher if she knows how to teach it?
    Thanks for another great cup of coffee, Roy!
    And…Happy Purim!

  • Raffi says:

    Thank you Roy, for being my friend and my teacher. also, should we patent Royga? we might have something special here.

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