Circus Maximii

Rome, Italy – Long ago, there was a huge stadium called Circus Maximus which was used for chariot-racing. According to the Wiki, it held 250,000 spectators. Today it holds a park.

And is the plural of multiple maximus’, maximii? Pronounced: MAX-im-eye? Well, why not? I like it.


Milwaukee, WI – Mr. Viva informed me this morning that the naming rights for the baseball stadium the Milwaukee Brewers call home were purchased by American Family Insurance. And I wonder insurance? But what will we drink?


As I reflect on the genesis of this blog — “I am a people watcher reporting from the bleacher seats” — this renaming news is a healthy reminder that the physical bleacher seats I fondly remember and occupied at Milwaukee County Stadium are gone. They were dozed and replaced by a newer, bigger, better stadium with a retractable roof to accommodate Wisconsin weather.

Bleacher seats move on. Stadiums are replaced. Stadiums are renamed. Change happens.



Rome, Italy – Romans were such big fans of spectacle, they staged full-scale naval battles. For reals.

While standing on Palatine Hill in Rome in 2007, Andrew, our tour guide pointed out the Campus Martius area. Imagine attending the spectator sport of a full-size reenactment of a naval battle on a man-made lake. What to wear? What to wear?

Well, Italians are good at water diversion because they’ve been at it a.long.time. First piece of evidence: ancient staged naval battles.


Milwaukee, WI – I had the great good fortune to be at the new Fiserv Forum on Monday to watch the Milwaukee Bucks play basketball against the Dallas Cowboys  Mavericks. Just across the street from this new beautiful stadium was the location for the BMO Harris Bradley Center, aka Bradley Center.

It was only 30 or so years ago when I sat in seats where the air was thin at the Bradley Center. In addition to a couple of basketball games, there was a circus. For the record, aerial acrobats do not seem so daring when you’re looking down on them from the bleacher nosebleed seats.

But those seats are gone too.

Maybe the former Bradley Center site will be a city park. That would be nice.

BMO Harris Bradley Center in decline.
BMO Bradley Center falling apart. Photo taken from the second floor of the Fiserv Forum.

I have terrific video footage from the game, but WordPress hasn’t recognized my Premium upgrade yet. Heh, heh. WordPress can charge my credit card like a Tesla supercharger but still no video upload, which trust me, it’s terrific, it’s the best, it’s the most beautiful video.

So, in the meantime, enjoy a couple of photos of the Fiserv venue:

The Fiserv Forum capacity is only 17,500 people proving that we’re mere amateurs. Ancient Rome’s Circus Maximus could hold 14 Fiserv Forums although to be fair, the Romans likely weren’t restrained by any consumer protection regulations.


Insert diatribe about the government shutdown going 33 days or into its second month and the Trump non-Administration circus pulling our government apart, risking our security, corrupting international relationships, putting a nuclear football in the hands of a usurper. Super fail for, or of, democracy.

“Bread and circuses” – Roman poet Juvenal. Circus’ maximii, the all of it.

Are we doomed like the Romans? Too much lead in our water?


I just can’t today.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday was Monday. I celebrate that for 39 years, Wisconsin has held an annual ceremony in observance of Dr. King.

I celebrate that if the best revenge is a life well lived, the Fiserv Forum was filled with lives full of it on Monday.

May we give our best when we live our best.

Be kind. Carry on.


Ann! Thank you for the great experience, food, and Bucks-Mavericks game Monday! (Along with not being able to upload videos, WordPress has also hidden superscript from me. Normally this would be a footnote. Oh well.)

Life, I. The magazine.

tl;dr? Imma blogging on Life — the  magazine between now and the new year. Specifically the March 31, 1972 issue. Enjoy! Or not.

A note. I republished this post about 3 minutes after first hitting publish. Laurene Powell Jobs was quoted in a recent NYTimes article. Not the 1972 Life magazine. Ms. Powell Jobs was 9 years old in 1973. Her fame and fortune were not yet a thing. 


I am in possession of the March 31, 1972 issue of Life magazine. 

As a child, George Wallace was a candidate in the first Presidential election of which I was aware and his name popped up in a discussion of the current racist resident of the White House with FAL*. When she tripped across a Life with an article on Wallace, she sent me the whole enchilada. 

And what a time capsule!       

*Not her real name. FAL is an acronym. Favorite Aunt L.                       


Former FLOTUS on magazine covers

Is the plural of FLOTUS, FLOTII?


Look was a contemporary magazine of LifeLook folded in the early 1970’s, Life died later. Thumbing through this issue of Life, magazines with curated news heavy on photos are a treasure.

In a recent NYTimes, I read with great interest,  an interview with Laurene Powell Jobs who is investing heavily in media:

Both magazines have managed to create unique journalistic platforms that help foster empathy and a better understanding of the world. – Laurene Powell Jobs

” … narrative moves people more than anything else.”

 Kara Swisher, “Can Laurene Powell Jobs Save Storytelling? NYTimes, November 27, 2018. 

Looking through the Life relic, I believe Ms. Powell Jobs is on to something. The photos were lush and contained another 1000 words each, they made me curious. The writing was smart and sharp, edited, considered, worthy of ink and paper, not of-the-moment and gone.

The unfiltered, uncurated internet increases connection without adding to understanding. Although the purchase of Pop-Up — a company that specializes in performance type art — can’t be held in your hands, I’m ready for a Look or Life reboot. Please?


And the Life March 31, 1972 issue is chock-full of reminders that some things never change.

In April 1971, Richard Nixon ran interference between a pending antitrust suit and a hearing at the Supreme Court for I.T.T.! And I love that the NYTimes has an online archive and that in 1973, they were the paper of record! Now? Eh, not so much, but I digress.

Ranan Lurie cartoon, Life, p. 12. March 31, 1972

In The Presidency op-ed, Hugh Sidey quoted Lyndon B. Johnson: 

Business,” snorted Lyndon Johnson once when he was battling the big interests, “is what makes the mare go.”

Hugh Sidey, The Presidency: What makes the mare go, Life, March 1972, p.12.

My bold. And this is comforting maybe things do never change! Remember John Mulaney’s observation that “Trump is a horse loose in the hospital.” This makes perfect sense since business is what makes Trump go.

Forty-six years on, the mare goes horse is unhinged and loose. 


Change a few names, tweek a situation or two, and Hugh Sidey’s op-ed would bring you up to speed on the Trump Administration’s political acrobatics. In the Nixon era:

“Even more fascinating was the story of Herbert Kalmbach, an obscure California attorney who happens to be Nixon’s private lawyer. According to one Washington authority, he now “has the goddamnedest bunch of clients lined up outside his door that you’ve ever seen.”

Hugh Sidey, “The Presidency:What makes the mare go,” Life, March 31, 1972, p.12.

Michael Cohen is Herbert Kalmbach to Trump’s Nixon. I cannot make this stuff up.


Last paragraph of the Life op-ed:  

Up on the Hill at the ITT hearing room a few days ago a young man with fire in his eyes waited for a seat. What for? “Because I want to hear them lie,” he spat.  … this new bitterness … began in the secluded chambers of power which this administration still seems to think are its private preserves, where matters too lofty and complex for common comprehension are dealt with. It is, once again, a policy of non-communication, and it is an added insult to the American intelligence.

Hugh Sidey, “The Presidency: What makes the mare go,” Life, March 31, 1972, p.12.

My bold. Jim Acosta could play the part of the young man with fire in his eyes. Ignore the mention of ITT, replace “them lie” with Sarah Huckabee Sanders lie” and that paragraph could have been written yesterday.

Today that paragraph would be updated to pile on more insult to the American intelligence with reference to Trump’s “gut tells him more than anybody’s brain.” 

Just wondering, what with his gut and Fox & Friends talking to him, maybe we should track his daily horoscope, too? He is a Gemini.


Finally, general observations from the bleacher seats decades removed from George Wallace:

  • George Wallace is a reminder that racists persist — he made four runs for the White House.
  • Wallace ran as a Democrat. Historically, racism has not been limited to party. (And we hope that has changed.) 
  • He was a ‘segregationist’ which is just a fancy bow tied around the gift of a racist. (To be clear, racists are a curse, not a gift. See also, sarcasm.) 
  • As a judge and an early adopter of voter suppression, he blocked federal review of voting lists. 
  • His wife’s name was Lurleen. She sat in for him as governor to get around term limits. Ugh. Political dynasties. Kennedys, Clintons, Bushes, who’m I missin’? 
  • An early adopter of shooting people to gain fame made an assassination attempt on Wallace in 1972. Wallace was left paralyzed for the remainder of his life.
  • And hope. Hope that minds and hearts can change. In 1979, Wallace apologized for the physical, literal stance he took at the door of a school to impose segregation demonstrate racism in action. “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.” –Edwards, George C.

An exclamation of points! A sundry assortment.

Before we get started, in mathematical notation, n factorial is written n! For n > 1, n! is the product of all the integers between 1 and n. Example:

4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 or 24

Wowza! Factorials get pretty big, pretty fast. Let’s go!

• 1! For love of an exclamation point!

When learning to punctuate, we learn that exclamation points should not be overused. Exclamation points emphasize excitement! Whoops and hollers! Surprise! Etcetera! Overuse undermines their impact! See?

To which I say, bah! Humbug! As a matter of expressing my complete excitement and enthusiasm for friends, the punctuation I have opted to use in salutations and greeting for personal correspondence is “Dear Jane!” or “Jane!” (Substitute your name for Jane.)

Consider the difference in your responses between:

Dear your name,

-and-

Dear your name!

If we read past “Dear your name,” we might discover we owe money, we are in need of services we were previously unaware of needing. The comma is the punctuation of business, all business, just the business ma’am. And we hate being ma’am-ed and we head to the shredder or beat the ‘delete’ key. Of course, there is personal correspondence for which the comma ‘,’ is still preferred. After all, boundaries do need to be maintained. Good fences make good neighbors and all that.

But! An exclamation point engages and expresses my excitement not about what I’m writing, but about our relationship! Good things to come! maybe? Adventure is afoot! I hope. Read on! Dear your name!

• 2! FLOTUS photo. For reals?

This week a photo of FLOTUS holding a child in Africa whose skin is ebony-colored threw us off a bit because FLOTUS, Melania Trump, appeared to be genuinely happy in the embrace! Perhaps Occam’s B**bstraps is too simple an explanation and FLOTUS is not the racist we assume.

And we would be happy to be wrong but given the company she keeps, this could be just another gaslight lit on the way to making us all crazy. We’ll keep an eye on this.

• 3! or 6. Universe bends.

In a concurrent sign from the universe that I am approaching page n of my long-hand journal, the blue ink pen I was using, ran out of ink! Synchronicity!

• 4! or 24. Peak news week!

In a new news peak news week — Rosenstein-fired-not-fired, Kavanaugh, FBI investigation, FLOTUS jaunt to Africa, UPCOMING ELECTIONS – VOTE! it’s a long list — the NYTimes couldn’t contain themselves and dropped the story of Trump multi-generational tax fraud writ large.

Given the current political environment, my projections for possible outcomes:

  1. Housing subsidies are reduced to limit the money the Trumps of the world siphon off the public good.
  2. Increased regulation of rent subsidies.
  3. Or, my favorite: investigation and prosecution of white collar, briefcase crime!

You might have waited for a less busy news week, but that might have been a long wait. So, great reporting NYTimes! Tax fraud is what sunk Al Capone.

• 5! or 120. Clickbait.

It may interest you to know that blog posts get more attention if they include photos and references to food. This is not a photo of tacos:

img_6679

Morning coffee with Lupita.

• 6! or 720. Friends!

In other late-breaking photographic video evidence this week, we are saddened but not surprised to learn that Prescedense OTUS does not have any friends, acquaintances, aid. No one is close enough to him, concerned enough to tell him or help him, or interested enough in his appearance to inform him that there was toilet paper stuck on his shoe.  Between a bathroom, the tarmac, the stairs. No.one.said.a.word.

Return text to FEMA Presidential alert from all of us: Hard to make America great again with toilet paper on your shoe, you orange-redacted-redacted-redacted redacted.

But maybe it was intentional? The USA as the metaphorical unflushed toilet paper stuck to his shoe? I digress. If FLOTUS were not off in Africa? I’d bet the toilet paper would still be stuck on his shoe all the way up the stairs and onto Air Force 1. Just sayin’.

• 7! or 5040. Civic participation!

With the abysmal performance of SCOTUS-nominee Brett Kavanaughnaw under pressure, the limited FBI investigation, the rush by die.die.die Mitch McConnell to seat Kavanaughnaw when there are other suitably objectionable candidates, Kavanaughnaw’s sorry-sad-sack-abuse-cycle-continues statement in the WSJ, I am so.in awe at the number, quantity, quality, and responsiveness of protests arising around the country and especially in Washington, D.C.

Individually, we’re navelent. In aggregate, we are a civic American force to be reckoned with.

Exercise your civic force in full November 6, 2018. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!! 

• 8! or 40320. Mental health break.

With the advent of personal communication devices, is it any wonder interpersonal relationships suffer? We cannot compete. We do not operate in micro-nano-itsy-bitsy-mini second moments. We operate in tree time, in real life rings earned by trips around the sun, the slow build-up of experience, time expressed in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades. The slow patina of age. And we short-circuit all that age and grace with clickbait — the flying bits sent through space and time which do not require our attention but consume our thoughts.

With a touch of irony, I offer this bit of clickbait – a video by Edward Tufte of Inge Druckery –  a designer and educator. It is a lush production taken at a pace which encourages one to slow.down, to immerse oneself in a pursuit that does not have an immediate payback or maybe any payback at all. This video reminds me that thoughts should be sustained beyond the rush-rush of 24-hours news cycles and click bait. There is a long game. It includes thoughtful design and beauty.

I find even 3- or 4-minutes restorative. (The entire video is 37 minutes long.)

Enjoy! Or not.


• 9! or 362880. Happy Birthday, Ann!!!

 

How times change: Rocket Arugula

Me, a child looking at some green salady thing Mom was dishing up: “What’s this?”

Mom: Rocket.

Mom goes on to explain she found it growing wild between the garden and the cornfield and washed up, it will be delicious.

Me: Ugh.

Fast-forward umpty-dumpty dump and a few more dump years.

Mr. Viva: Do I need to pick anything up from the store?

Me: Rocket. Only now we call it arugula.

And it comes to us by way of a plastic container, all 6 oz. and triple-washed and ready to go.

Delicious.


Remember our veterans & a Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Aging & Music

Not long ago, Frood¹, Mr. Viva and I watched U2 perform on Saturday Night Live². And what a wonder that 40 years after U2 started making music, they still make new music! And still with the social commentary! And Bono shouts into a bullhorn!  Given that U2 may not be your cup of tea soundwise, agewise they are my contemporaries and here I shout into the internet void making music on my little orange crate with my bullhorn just.like.Bono! But I digress.

As we watched U2, I thought of career musicians and who of the new artists I listen to now, will I listen to in 20+ years?

Looking back, the disco ’70’s Rolling Stones were old guys. To me, they were so ’60’s. And I thought ‘they should hang it up.’ But here’s the thing, they played through my adolescent derision and they played through the disco era. Forty-plus years since, the Stones still persist.  And here’s another thing, I still listen to the Disco Stones as much as I don’t listen to K.C. & the Sunshine Band. Same era, different musicians, different career arch. I’ve seen K.C. & Sunshine in concert, it was fun and they were talented but … hmmm …

Musical progression, personal reflections in the musical mirror, social and political commentary, concepts, cohesion. Not just songs but sound. Who makes a career of it and who doesn’t, who’s a pop-candy-flash-in-the-pan and who’s a full pot roast dinner? The mashed potatoes might be lumpy but the gravy is divine and oh how I love me mixed metaphors.  Again, I digress.

Early U2, the big breakout album The Joshua Tree carried the message ‘I’m-young-and-a-bit-of-an-arsehole-watch-me-change-the-world.’ The new U2 album³, The Songs of Experience messages,  ‘arseholes-aside-we-need-to-change-the-world-and-you-are-part-of-we.’  We can’t do it ourselves. We need you. We all need we.

Two albums separated by decades with the same resulting message – change the world. And all sung to the tune of U2.

Music. Follow a career. Who persists. What changes. What sticks.

I’m listening.

– Written on a Saturday morning with coffee in the Mr. Viva manroom listening to Miles Davis and The Complete Birth of The Cool, S’il Vous Plait


¹ Frood. Still not her real name, but she knows of where her towel is.

² Saturday Night Live first aired in 1975.  SNL has been around a long time, too.  Future blog post idea: Aging comedically.  And Michael Che on Weekend Update. Deadpan delivery. He persists. He consistently cracks me up.

³ Album. IMO, “album” is a throwback term related to the delivery of music on a vinyl disc played on analog equipment of a specific size, limited to a certain amount of time.  “Albums” (usually) imply a theme. As digital has taken over — I can download music through the time and space of the wireless web. A collection of songs can be organized in many ways other than artist and theme and play time limitations.

Maybe it’s time to rethink “album” terminology.  ‘B’-side anybody? If you know what THAT means, you might be of a certain age … just sayin’.

A Sundry Assortment: Winter Olympics 2018

Before I start on my sundry assortment of 2018 Winter Olympic observations, I must say that after Mueller’s indictment of Russians meddling in the 2016 election,  I tripped across the comment “It is still possible Mueller could still indict Americans for knowingly helping Russia.” ¹ (Hat Tip: WTFJHT)

And I thought: All 63,985,134 of them? Mueller might be taking names …

Bwahahaha! Okay. Enough. On to a couple itty-bitty Olympic-size observations.


Men’s Figure Skating

I happen to be liking Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir commentary. Not at first and every now and then, sure, I’d still like them to shut up. But as Mr. Viva & I watch an entire skating event, as the precision of performance on the ice goes up, their rate of commentary goes down. And when I listen to them yammer, they do know of what they speak. They have occupied Olympic ice.

Which brings me to presence. For many men,”sports” do not depend on having a “presence.” And let’s face it, the best figure skaters exude a dynamic presence on the ice. Figure skating is not about facing down an opponent or other team and overcoming by scoring more points or beating them up.

And this is why many men don’t see the sport in Men’s Figure Skating competitions. No one is tackled. No harm. No foul. There is music. There is choreography. There are not uniforms.  Individuals wear “outfits.”

No sport.

This explains a lot.

Speaking of Presence

Johnny Weir has presence in spades. He is a joy and a delight!

And I love that his hair last night in profile — swept up and back and very black — reminded me of my great-aunt Amy. And she was beautiful.

Thank you, Mr. Weir.

Pink Floyd takes the ice.

Thrown into the mix of classical music during the final skate of the Men’s Ice Skating championship last night was a skate to a Pink Floyd medley including Shine on You Crazy Diamond and Money.

And then Mr. Viva & I reflected. Pink Floyd’s song Money was released in 1973 or forty-five (45) years ago.

It a classic.

Now it’s like, classical …

Extreme Sports

Back in the day, more than 45 years ago, in black and white, I watched skiers go off the end of the ski jump and watched the official tape measurers measure the length of the jump.  And catching air and sailing, ski tips to the nose while in flight, landing with maximum distance. I was mesmerized.

I haven’t been followed the addition of new extreme winter sports to the Olympics. And so, I watch drop-jawed gobsmacked the half-pipe snowboarding and aerial freestyle skiing or whatever it’s called, events. (“The US Stunk at Winter Olympics Until Extreme Sports Came Along”)

Hurl yourself down a ski jump, flip a couple times in the air, land backward and ski to the next jump which is taken backward, perform a couple more flips, land. This is extreme. Also, the face plants into snow and ice on some spills are painful just to watch. I’m relieved when the athlete gets up and waves their arms and … they’re ready to go again? What!?

And I wonder what sports get added after Extreme Winter Sports? Extreme Winter Sports on Steroids? No, steroids are banned. Extreme Winter Sports Plus? Extreme Men’s Figure Skating? Extreme <insert event that’s not yet extreme here>?

Or maybe the Olympic Committee could consider adding age categories.  Give the ‘olds’ some medals. Extremely Old Winter Sports.  Aging out is not an option.

I mean, we can sing along to Pink Floyd.


¹ ¹Strohm, Chris. Mueller Still Investigating Possible Collusion, Source Says” Bloomberg. 16 February 2018 2:32 PM CST. Web. 17 February 2018.

NASA’s commitment to diversity in photo.

As proof of NASA’s commitment to diversity, they included an old white guy in a photo with doctors, scientists, engineers, pilots and military officers. Whoa!

And my first thought:  what is Mike Pence doing in that photo?

Answer: NASA astronauts, class of 2017, are welcomed by a representative of the Trump administration.* (These are the chosen 12 out of 18,300 applicants – 0.065% chance of selection, wow.  Pretty sure the applicant list for VP was barely even double digit … just sayin.’)

My second thought: what could these astronauts talk about with the VP?

NASA funding? Nyet.  No details.

Climate change? Nyet. Not a believer.

Anything science related? Nyet. I’m a believer.

Mrs. Pence’s beehive? Oh yes! We do need to save the bees.  

Nod and smile politely.  We do need to save the bees.


Full disclosure: I saw a headline referring to Mrs. Pence’s beehive yesterday and I immediately thought she had her hair done. In a beehive.  Mother Pence.

* Yes, Ann.  It still kills me a little to type the words ‘Trump administration.’