The Farmer’s Almanac is calling for cold and snow just in time for Super Bowl XLVIII next Feb. 2.
I’m not surprised. In late December of 2010, when the National Football League wisely called off a game in Philadelphia because of a blizzard, I wrote in my column in The New York Times:
"But the league has set in motion the reward for arrogance: the impending blizzard of February 2014."
That forecast will come true because of the hubris of N.F.L. owners who think they can control everything. They do their best to ignore unfavorable medical information about brain damage from their dangerous business, and they bully network partners like ESPN into choosing between a lucrative partnership and journalistic integrity. However, tempting nature may be a step too far even for King Football.
I've got a track record for predicting storms for leagues demonstrating chutzpah. In 1986, Major League Baseball scheduled not one but two post-season games in dear dumpy old Shea Stadium within 24 hours on Yom Kippur, the most solemn Jewish holy day. I wrote:
"It is going to rain for 24 solid hours, children. The television networks and baseball officials are going to have to scurry around like lost souls in a Cecil B. DeMille epic trying to protect their cameras and their money from floating into Flushing Bay.”
Sure enough, it rained hard and long enough to push back the games by a day. Frankly, they were lucky the deities did not send a surge straight into Flushing Bay to return Shea to the marshlands.
Now the folks at the adjacent National Tennis Center are planning a weighty retractable roof mechanism over the main stadiums, built over the very same swampland. Let’s see how that works out.
But first, please feel free to contribute your own vision of the great blizzard of 2014.
My 2010 column predicting snow:
My 1986 column predicting rain. Rather, I called it a deluge.
The story about the current Farmer’s Almanac prediction:
The networks and the papers are gearing up for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Aug. 28. I saw the saintly John Lewis on television the other night.
Memories kick in.
I was covering the Mets in Pittsburgh, and watched the march on television during the day, captivated by the mood, the words, the faces.
Then I got on the bus from the Hilton, down by the famed confluence, to funky old Forbes Field up on the hill. At some point I got into a conversation with Maury Allen of the Post and Jesse Gonder and Alvin Jackson of the Mets, who had all been watching in their rooms.
I’ve always treasured this memory of four people standing around the clubhouse, so enthused about Martin Luther King and the other speakers, and the people who had come so far, the joy and hope we felt.
I’d forgotten that Jackson was the starting pitcher that night, lasting four and two-thirds innings against his old club, taking the loss in a 7-2 defeat. Gonder pinch-hit for Choo Choo Coleman with two on and no out in the ninth and hit into a force play. Roberto Clemente went 3-for-4 and drove in 3 runs. I can’t remember if we asked him about the march after the game. I’d like to think we did.
Throughout the bad times and the good times, the memory remains of that march. The four of us had been sure, as the Sam Cooke song would say a few months later, a change was gonna come.
Nowadays, the sour faces on Cantor, McConnell, Paul and Boehner seem straight from the bad old days. And we are assured by Chief Justice John Roberts that things are so good that we do not need a voting rights law anymore. Governors and legislatures do their best to deny access to voting. Fifty years ago I stood around a clubhouse with three friends and talked about the March on Washington.
The box score from that game:
The history of the Sam Cooke song:
A more recent story about the March on Washington:
Ladies and gentlemen, the late, great Sam Cooke:
Bruce Logan served two tours in Vietnam as an officer, and counted himself lucky when he returned to the United States. Now he and his Canadian wife, Elaine Head, consider Vietnam a second home.
Some Americans go back to confront their bad dreams in the cities and countryside. They are often touched by the conciliatory tone of word and deed.
In a village outside Hanoi, Logan and Head were invited to a feast at the home of a woman named Phuong. In a matter-of-fact way, she described President Nixon’s Christmas bombing of 1972, the bodies and the rubble. The former officer expressed his sorrow for the carnage.
“In response, Phoung turned her misted eyes to mine, laid her hand on my forearm and said, ‘I am so glad that you did not die in the war and that we are here to have dinner together in my house.’
“At that, everyone had a silent cry, for long ago pain, for the moment we had shared, and for the gift of forgiveness in Hanoi.”
Logan and Head tell many stories like this in their book, Back to Vietnam: Tours of the Heart, published by JOTH Press, Salt Spring Island, B.C. and First Choice Press of Victoria, B.C.
My wife and I had similar experiences in 1991 when we were visiting Vietnam as part of her child-care work. People casually divulged details of the war – but only if we asked. Mostly they demonstrated reconciliation, north with south, Vietnamese with Americans.
Not everybody goes back. I have friends who lived through terrible times in Vietnam and do not care to go back. I was never there in wartime; I understand. I had a nice visit with Sen. John McCain once, and asked why he and his buddies help send goods to Vietnam. He shrugged, quite modestly, suggesting it was the right thing to do. I think about that when I see him on television. There is a good man in there.
Like many combat veterans, Bruce Logan kept the war inside him, but he and his second wife, Elaine Head, visited Vietnam in 2006 with a group of veterans and their families. The book has touching stories of finding old foxholes, places where soldiers and civilians died, where horrible memories live, tempered by the forgiveness of the Vietnamese, that sometimes feels like a miracle.
The glorious byproduct of the visits was gaining a family. In the World Heritage town of Hoi An, just outside Da Nang, Logan and Head met Le Nguyen Binh and his wife Quyen, who operate Reaching Out, a distributor of hand-crafted goods made by people who might be consider disabled. My wife and I have purchased some of their high-quality goods. (I wrote about Binh and Quyen in a previous post.)
Binh and Quyen have made a standing offer for Logan and Head to live in Hoi An, and be cared for in their old age, perhaps even be cremated there. Not yet, Logan and Head say, politely. They still conduct tours for Americans who need to return to Vietnam. Their sweet book is graced by their anecdotes, their adventures, their bond with their other home.
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.