Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and grandmas who read us. Hope Hallmark had a good day which means moms everywhere were remembered. However, Hallmark got a real kick in the groin for their Father’s Day card sales in the Netherlands when a court banned a man from donating any more of his sperm. Seems like there is a Dutch regulation that prohibits sperm donors from fathering over 25 children with a minimum of 12 different mothers. This stud has fathered 550 kids. I’ll wager ten euros he can’t come up with half their names and birthdays.
And upcoming will be a special Father’s Day for Robert De Niro, who at age 79 became a dad once again this week with the birth of his seventh child. The baby was a girl, Gia, with mom Tiffany Chen, 45 or thereabouts, a martial arts instructor and actress. It will be fun to see De Niro, a diaper bag and his six other kids ages 51, 46, twins at 27, 24 and 11 pile into the back of their Ford Country Squire for a Sunday outing to Carvel.
I got some bad news for my hoped to return to a quiet retirement life when the Temple Sinai congregation held its annual meeting last Sunday. With one year remaining in my term as president, it marks the halfway point of the commitment. I really hoped for a movement from the floor to impeach. I was ready to second any motion. Unfortunately, once the congregants gave a standing ovation to our board for accomplishments and vision in year one, I figured at that point I was doomed to another year. My first year’s experience ran the gamut from hiring a new rabbi to being admonished because there were no sugar-free cookies on the buffet and a whole bunch of mishegoss in-between. Whoever came up with the expression ‘time flies’ has never been a synagogue president.
You probably knew this but on May 8, 1965, 53 years ago last weekend, for the only time in the Billboard 100 pop history, nine of the top ten songs on the American charts were recorded by foreigners. Numbers ten through six that week were all done by British artists: Cast Your Fate To The Wind by Sounds Orchestral; The Last Time by The Rolling Stones; Freddie And The Dreamers were number eight with I’m Telling You Now; Herman’s Hermits did Silhouettes, and I Know A Place by Petula Clark was sixth. Number five was I’ll Never Find Another You by the Australian group The Seekers. The Brits came back at number four and three with Game Of Love by Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders and the Beatles’ Ticket to Ride. Number one was Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter by Peter Noone and his Hermits. The only American band to break up the party was at number two where Gary Lewis (Jerry’s kid) And The Playboys recorded Count Me In.
This one is easy: the longest song title to ever hit number one? Bryan Highland recorded the 40 letter title- Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini in 1960.
If anyone tries to convince you that drugs and alcohol are not good for your health remind them that Willie Nelson turned 90 last week. And joining me in celebrating my 71st last Saturday were Willie Mays 92, Bob Seger 78, and George Clooney, the kid of our group at 62.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence that as I turned 71 I was invited to play in the Clergy Classic Golf Tournament sponsored by local Vegas funeral directors. My team did okay, at least we didn’t get buried, finishing fourth.
Speaking of health and cemeteries, cigarette smoking is on the wane year by year. In the mid-1960s, when cigarette ads were all over television making it trendy, 42% of U.S. adults smoked. My parents were part of the group — Mom with Parliament and Dad Winston before switching to Marlboro. In the 80s, I was a two pack a day smoker before quitting cold turkey and never going back on May 6, 1986. Year by year the numbers declined with 12.5% participation rate in 2021 and 11% last year. It needs to keep diminishing.
The curse of a Sunday Morning Coffee mention hit home this month. Back on March 1 we wished a happy 96th birthday to Harry Belafonte, one of our favorites. Mr. Belafonte died on April 25. In our last Scramble on April 23, we mentioned two-sport professional athlete and baseball champion Dick Groat, 92, who was the great uncle of professional golfer Brooks Koepka, runner-up in this year’s Masters. Mr. Groat passed four days later on April 27.
Fifty years ago this month was one of those forever moments for a boomer. It was the year of Secretariat, and in May 1973 we watched him win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before heading to Belmont Park and the magical Triple Crown. I vividly remember watching the Belmont on June 9, 1973, in my parents’ Long Island house, in the den with my grandmother who was dying from stomach cancer. In awe we watched Secretariat beat four other horses by an astonishing 31 lengths. There were only five horses in the race because there was no sense challenging Big Red. Secretariat died in 1989 at 18 years. Incredibly, during a necropsy Secretariat’s heart was estimated to be 22 pounds compared to an average horse’s heart of eight pounds. His enlarged heart allowed his ability to process oxygen to be so great that stamina would never be a problem. Secretariat was not only the best racehorse I’ve ever seen but easily among the top five athletes of my life.
What ever happened to the Ice Bucket Challenge?
The more I watch the NHL playoffs the more I like the Canadian national anthem.
And while we are on the subject, incredible to believe that no hockey team from Canada, where the game was born and raised, has won the Stanley Cup since Montreal in 1993. Only one remains standing today, Edmonton, who a week ago would have been my pick to win it all. I still like them, despite being down 3-2 to Vegas, but not as much as I did. That’s called a hedge.
I had never heard of magician David Blaine before Andi wanted to go see him at Resorts World. Amazing.
Feeling for the kids of today. In the late 60s, early 70s, when shopping malls were coming into their own, it was the place for we teens to hang out on weekends. In 1980, during its heyday, there were 2500 shopping malls across the United States. Today, with home shopping and security concerns, there are 700. Ten years from now the decline is expected to drop to 250. Another piece of Americana now driving in an Amazon van.
Fire the bum. Mike Budenholzer led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA regular season this year at 58-24. Since taking over the head coaching seat in Milwaukee in 2018 his overall win-loss record is 341-146, a winning percentage of 70%. Bud was chosen NBA Coach of the Year in 2019 and his Bucks won the NBA title in 2020-21. None of this was good enough for Bucks management and ownership. Despite being the best team in the regular season this year, Milwaukee lost in the first round to Miami in five games. Their stud Giannis Antetokounmpo was injured for most of the series, and just before game four Budenholzer’s brother was killed in an automobile accident. He was canned on May 4. However, no pity party needed. Coach Bud walked away with $16 million in severance.
Speaking of coaching vacancies, don’t be surprised this off-season if Becky Hammon, head coach of the WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces gets serious looks to become the first female court boss in the NBA.
The Aces are owned by Mark Davis, owner of the Raiders. Last season Davis brought Tom Brady in as a minority partner of the basketball team. Over the next couple of months, Brady will also become a minority partner of the Raiders.
The Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL draft lottery and will pick number one next month. Connor Bedard is only 17 but labeled as a ‘generational’ player. Even the Blackhawks can’t bumble this one. Bedard will earn a contract worth $4.5 million his first year. That’s okay, in the 12 hours following the Blackhawks winning the lottery they sold $5.2 million in new season tickets. Now all they have to do is remember to select him first.
There’s something about the Oakland A’s announcement to move to Las Vegas that I’m just not ready to buy. First they announced they agreed to purchase 35 acres of land from Station Casinos about a mile west of the Strip near T-Mobile Arena, but would need $500 million in public financing to build the $1.5 billion, 30,000 seat stadium. Then ten days later, this past Tuesday, they said only kidding and now say they are buying the Tropicana Hotel, plan to demolish it, build a stadium on that site and only need $400 million in public assistance. Nobody would disagree that imploding the Tropicana is a good idea. Opened in 1957 it has well exceeded its expiration date and implosion would be the elixir for the hotel that has its original carpeting and paint. Or so it seems. The walls have emphysema. Oh, Rich Little might object to the Trop closing its doors putting his four night a week gig in jeopardy. Little, 84, performs at 6:30 pm so he and his crowd can finish their 4 pm dinner and be home in bed by 8. And as stale as Little’s shows might be, unless you enjoy an hour of faded Tonight Show clips, it’s still better than A’s baseball, far and away the worst team in the sport. A national journalist wrote that once Dan Synder sells the Redskins or Commanders, pick a name, that John Fisher, the Oakland owner will become the worst owner in professional sports. I’m not sure what it is about this, but something smells and I’m not ready to run out and get my tickets for when the Yankees come to town. At least not yet.
Finally, the NFL has put me in a real shitty situation. At the end of every season teams publish who their home and away opponents will be for the following season. For the first time since the Raiders have been in Vegas, the Jets play here this season. I was excited when I saw that. I’ve been a Jets fan longer than they’ve been the Jets, dating all the way back to the New York Titans days in 1960. Of the 18 weeks in the NFL regular season, the only week that I had a conflict was the second weekend in November when my son Scott is getting married in Mexico. The NFL released their schedule on Thursday, and naturally the Jets, and their new cool quarterback, will be here to play the Raiders on November 12. Now I have a decision to make.