05/03/2014 archive

Triple Crown: The Longest 2 Minutes In Sports

This was no ordinary homecoming.  This was a do-or-die attempt to lay the ghost of years of rejection from the horse-rearing elite and the literati who sat in those privileged boxes overlooking the track and those unprivileged craven hordes who grovelled around the centre-field where he had suffered as a boy.

The clubhouse as I remember was worse, much worse than I had expected.  It was a mess.  This was supposed to be a smart, horsey clubhouse, oozing with money and gentry, but what I saw had me skulking in corners.  It was worse than the night I spent on Skid Row a month later, back in New York.  My feet crunched broken glass on the floor.  There seemed no difference between a telephone booth and a urinal; both were used for the same purpose.  Foul messages were scrawled in human excrement on the walls and bull-necked men, in what had once been white, but were smeared and stained, seersucker suits, were doing awful things to younger but equally depraved men around every corner.  The place reminded me of a cowshed that hadn’t been cleaned in fifteen years.  Somehow I knew I had to look and observe.  It was my job.  What was I being paid for?  I was lucky to be here.  Lots of people would give their drawing arm to be able to see the actual Kentucky Derby which was now hardly an hour away.  Hunter understood and was watching me as much as he was watching the scene before us.

Something splattered the page I was drawing on and, as I moved to wipe it away, I realized too late it was somebody’s vomit.  During the worst days of the Weimar Republic, when Hitler was rising faster than a bull on heat, George Grosz, the savage satirical painter, had used human shit as a violent method of colouring his drawings.  It is a shade of brown like no other and its use makes an ultimate statement about the subject.

‘Seen enough?’, asked Hunter, pushing me hastily towards an exit that led out to the club enclosure.  I needed a drink.  ‘Er… one more trip to the inner-field Ralph I think,’ I heard Hunter say nervously.  ‘Only another half-hour to the big race.  If we don’t catch the inner-field now, we’ll miss it.’  So we went.

While the scene was as wild here as it had been in the clubhouse, it had a warmer, more human face, more colour and happiness and gay abandon – the difference in atmosphere between Hogarth’s Gin Lane and Beer Street.  One harrowed and death-like the other bloated with booze but animal-healthy.

Who would have thought I was after the gristle, the blood-throbbing veins, poisoned exquisitely by endless self-indulgence, mint juleps, and bourbon.  Hide, anyway, behind the dark shades you predatory piece of raw blubber.

The race was now getting a frenzied response as Dust Commander began to make the running.  Bangles and jewels rattled on suntanned, wobbling flesh and even the pillar men in suits were now on tip-toe, creased skin under double-chins stretched to the limit into long furrows that curved down into tight collars.

Mouths opened and closed and veins pulsed in unison as the frenzy reached its climax.  One or two slumped back as their horses failed, but the mass hysteria rose to a final orgasmic shriek, at last bubbling over into whoops of joy, hugging and back slapping.  I turned to face the track again, but it was all over.  That was it.  The 1970 Kentucky Derby won by Dust Commander with a lead of five lengths – the biggest winning margin since 1946 when Triple Crown Champion, Assault, won the Derby by eight lengths.

‘I think it’s time I was thinking of getting back to New York.  Let’s have a meal somewhere and I can phone the airline for plane times.  What day is it, we seem to have lost a weekend.  I need a drink.’

‘You need a lynching.  You’ve upset my friends and I haven’t written a goddamn word.  I’ve been too busy looking after you.  Your work here is done.  I can never come back here again.  This whole thing will probably finish me as a writer.  I have no story.’

‘Well I know we got a bit pissed and let things slip a bit but there’s lots of colour.  Lots happened.’

‘Holy Shit!  You scumbag!  This is Kentucky, not Skid Row.  I love these people.  They are my friends and you treated them like scum.’

Ralph Steadman- The Joke’s Over

If you want to you can watch Kentucky Derby coverage from 11 am ET (on Vs. where it actually started on Wednesday) until 7 pm (on NBC, where they spare you the pre-race hype until 4).

I suppose this is good thing since you can hardly be expected to follow Horse Racing unless you’re a tout or plunger in one of the few forms of gambling deemed socially acceptable (as opposed to Poker, which is not gambling at all) and 2 year olds don’t have much of a record to handicap.  Hoppertunity is out with a sore foot.

Ice Cream.  Get your Tutsi Frootsie Ice Cream.

It’s really mostly an excuse to wear hats that would be rejected from a 5th Avenue Easter Parade or Royal Wedding and get tanked up on Bourbon that is best sipped with a soda chaser and not muddled up with mint.

The Kentucky Derby tax break


5/2/14 6:20 PM EDT

A gift from Congress is expected later this year: renewal of a multimillion dollar tax break for thoroughbreds.

It’s a nice little perk for racehorse investors, considering some of these prized animals go for hundreds of thousands, sometimes, millions of dollars.

“Oh, the poor impoverished owners of racehorses,” said tea party favorite Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.). “I don’t know how you can defend that … I’m sure it’s so critical that we borrow money from the Chinese to spend” on this.

The Senate Finance Committee last month approved an $85 billion package renewing most tax extenders for two years, including the racehorse provision, which will cost about $97 million in fiscal 2014 and 2015 – a small fraction of the overall tax package cost.

The Humane Society argues that “healthy racehorses end up in the slaughter pipeline when their owners abandon them because they are injured or aren’t turning a big enough profit.”

They cite Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who was sold and then slaughtered in Japan in 2002.

Over a decade, the racehorse tax provision would cost about $500 million, according to a February Congressional Budget Office report.

“To me, the horse-thing is just one example of this bigger problem,” said Steve Wamhoff, policy analyst at the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice. He is steaming about “the fact that Congress can find time and money for this but not unemployment” insurance.

Loves me some Derby winner viande de cheval.

Mint Julep


  • 4 cups bourbon
  • 2 bunches fresh spearmint
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar


To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.

To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Serve immediately.

Other Stories in The New York Times

I suppose I might mention this is the 140th edition.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness NewsWelcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Drink Your Greens

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I’ve never been one to eat or drink a particular food just because it’s good for you. So for years I’ve been rolling my eyes whenever anyone starts talking about green smoothies or green drinks. I love greens, but not in my morning smoothie.  [..]

The drinks are loaded with phytonutrients, and they’re filling. They are definitely meals in a glass. When I was testing the recipes I enjoyed every sip and felt very energetic for hours afterward. So, no more rolling my eyes: I’m a green smoothie convert.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Pineapple-Basil Smoothie

This may sound strange, but pineapple marries well with peppery basil.

Pear Smoothie With Spinach, Celery and Ginger

Ginger adds zest and banana contributes substance to this kefir- or yogurt-based drink.

Blueberry Kefir Smoothie With Greens

A green drink, rich in anthocyanins, that doesn’t look green, thanks to blueberries.

Green Smoothie With Pineapple, Arugula, Greens and Cashews

The pineapple stands up well to the arugula and greens, and ginger pumps up the flavor.

Green Smoothie With Cucumber and Cumin

This savory smoothie resembles an Indian lassi with added spice.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

John Nichols: [Doubling the Minimum Wage Is on the Agenda in Seattle-and Nationally]

The dramatic progress of the movement to make the minimum wage a living wage was highlighted on May Day when Seattle Mayor Ed Murray unveiled a plan to double the base pay for workers over the coming decade.

A year ago, President Obama and others saw raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25-an-hour to $9-an-hour as the great leap forward.

This week, the newly elected mayor of one of America’s largest and most prosperous cities proposed a plan that would, in a series of steps over the coming decade, take the base wage as high as $18 an hour. Something big is happening; the activist coalition Working Washington hailed the announcement of the mayor’s plan as “an incredible accomplishment.” Recalling “strikes, marches, boycotts and other mobilizations” by fast-food workers in Seattle that raised the call for a $15-an-hour basic wage, the labor-backed group noted that, “Less than a year later, we are on the verge of achieving a $15 minimum wage that ensures every worker in Seattle can support themselves, afford the basics, and contribute to the economy.”

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: How to Keep the Internet Open and Free

Don’t let net neutrality become another broken promise

Barack Obama told us there would be no compromise on Net neutrality. We heard him say it back in 2007, when he first was running for president. [..]

He said it many more times. And defenders of Net neutrality believed him, that he would preserve Internet access for all, without selling out to providers like Verizon and Comcast who want to charge higher fees for speedier access – hustling more cash from those who can afford to buy a place at the front of the line. On this issue so important to democracy, they believed he would keep his word, would see to it that when private interests set upon the Internet like sharks to blood in the water, its fate would be in the hands of honest brokers who would listen politely to the pleas of the greedy, and then show them the door.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be Washington’s infamous revolving door. Last May, President Obama named Tom Wheeler to be FCC chairman. He had other choices, men or women whose loyalty was to the public, not to rich and powerful corporations. But Tom Wheeler had been one of Obama’s top bundlers of campaign cash – both in 2008 and again in 2012, when he raised at least half a million dollars for the president’s re-election. Like his proposed new rules for the Web, that put him at the front of the line.

George Zornick: Why the Jobs Report Isn’t All Good

The Labor Department released two job surveys Friday morning, and one of them has unambiguously good news: the monthly survey of businesses said the economy added 288,000 jobs in April, beating expectations by a considerable margin and representing one of the highest monthly totals since the 2008 crash. Steve Benen has the chart: [..]

And disturbing fundamentals still abound. The employment rate’s substantial drop from 6.7 percent in March to 6.3 percent in April was due entirely to people leaving the work force, according to the household survey. The overall labor force participation rate fell to its lowest point of the recovery.

While quite a bit of these “missing workers” are baby boomers who retired, about half are of prime working age. In other words, these are people who simply stopped looking for work.

Zoë Carpenter: More Local Law Enforcement Officials Are Refusing to Comply With Obama’s Deportation Policies

At least ten counties in Colorado announced this week that they will stop complying with requests from immigration officials to detain people solely for the purpose of investigating their immigration status.

The announcements follow similar moves made in late April by more than two-dozen counties in Oregon and Washington State, as well as the cities of Philadelphia and Baltimore. The trend illustrates the fraying relationship between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement in several states, after recent court rulings challenged the legal foundations of their cooperation. The break presents yet another challenge to the Obama administration, whose immigration enforcement mechanisms lean heavily on the partnership between federal and local agents.

Leslie Savan: Why Is the Right Obsessed With Castration?

Right-wing pols and militia men seen to be thinking about castration an awful lot lately. In speeches and in campaign ads, they’re threatening to cut off their enemies’ balls, and it’s getting weird.

We can only speculate over why some on the right have castration on their minds. Conservative white males, now a minority in a country led by a black president, are losing their demographic cojones. Maybe they’re threatening their foes with what they fear most-or maybe talking like a mohel allows them to sound violent and still be considered vaguely humorous.

Over at Cliven Bundy’s ranch, the folks fighting federal tyranny (that is, refusing to pay for grazing rights on federal land) are still gathering and making speeches.

Dave Zirin: Whitewash: How The NY Times Just Rewrote The History Of Sports

Timothy Egan has an op-ed in the New York Times calling sports “the most progressive force in America.” He points to the ways that Jackie Robinson integrated baseball a decade before the Civil Rights Movement and is honored today as “players throughout the country wear his number, prompting millions of kids to ask their parents what that is all about.” Egan also praises Muhammad Ali, as someone “with a mouth as quick as his jab, [who] forced a conversation about pride and prejudice that went far beyond the boxing ring”. He lauds present-day figures like Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, for calling out racist code words in the media and delivers his most effusive praise to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, writing, “In issuing the sports equivalent of the death penalty – lifetime ban, probable forced sale of his franchise – to the basketball owner Donald Sterling, the N.B.A. showed every other institution that courage is more commendable than dithering.”

Egan could certainly have also mentioned women like Billie Jean King, Donna de Varona, and “Racey” Lacey O’Neil and their efforts to advance women’s rights and Title IX, as well as everyone from Tom Waddell to Martina Navratilova to Kye Allums to Jason Collins for using sports as a way to break open the closet and provide visibility to the very existence of LGBT athletes.

On This Day In History May 3

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

May 3 is the 123rd day of the year (124th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 242 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1919, Pete Seeger, folk singer, activist, environmentalist was born in NYC.

On July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt, as they failed to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their attempts to investigate alleged subversives and communists. Pete Seeger testified before the HUAC in 1955.

In one of Pete’s darkest moments, when his personal freedom, his career, and his safety were in jeopardy, a flash of inspiration ignited this song. The song was stirred by a passage from Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quie Flows the Don”. Around the world the song traveled and in 1962 at a UNICEF concert in Germany, Marlene Dietrich, Academy Award-nominated German-born American actress, first performed the song in French, as “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” Shortly after she sang it in German. The song’s impact in Germany just after WWII was shattering. It’s universal message, “let there be peace in the world” did not get lost in its translation. To the contrary, the combination of the language, the setting, and the great lyrics has had a profound effect on people all around the world. May it have the same effect today and bring renewed awareness to all that hear it.

The Breakfast Club (Hiyo Silver, Away!)

 photo BeerBreakfast_web_zps646fca37.pngI suppose I don’t have to tell the hipper among you today is Derby Day, the most exciting (don’t bink) two minutes in sports.

Preceded by the most boring 2 hours in sports and a display of drunken debauchery that puts a Turn Left Bumpercar race to shame.  Make sure you check out the $400 hats and ignore the pervasive smell of vomit that over rides even the odor of horse crap.

For more and better insights like this by Ralph Steadman who accompanied Stockton to the 1970 edition I encourage you to drop by my sites, The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma for full coverage.

I thought for about 20 whole seconds before I came up with the perfect music for today.  It’s a Romantic piece, a symphony in 4 parts (Berlioz, not me) evoking life in the Swiss Alps.

Unlike a true symphony it’s very short, about 12 minutes, and the four movements, Dawn, Storm, Call to the Cows, and March of the Swiss Soldiers, are unseparated by pauses.  No doubt you will recognize many of the themes, it’s among the most famous pieces in music.

That’s Arturo Toscanini by the way.

So if you want to learn a little bit more about, grab your silver julep cup (never too early to get drunk on Derby Day) and join me below the fold.