While waiting for the grifter Donald Trump to be hooted off the campaign trail, I have ignored my own guilt, as a sports columnist, in his public survival.
In his home town, where he was known the best, he was always a joke, a poseur, a piker, a pisher, as we say in New York. And I contributed to this by using him as a punch line for something gaudy, something trivial, something absurd.
Trump pops up in many columns I wrote over nearly three decades.
Football: I first became aware of Trump in the mid-‘70’s when I met his brother, Freddy, who had gone to grade school with friends of mine. (The Trumps lived in a tony area half a mile from my busy street.) Freddy talked with great respect about his younger brother, the builder.
I met Trump when he purchased the Generals, a football team in a startup league. He held press conferences in his glitzy hotels – free advertising – and signed expensive players like Doug Flutie, but with Trump’s apparently short attention span, details were always vague.
Figure Skating: Through a mutual friend, I got invited to an exhibition in the Garden, where I met the very bright Ivana Trump. The Donald wore a camel’s hair coat, and always stayed on the periphery of social conversation.
Baseball: When George Steinbrenner seemed to have burned out, or gotten himself suspended, I would suggest he sell the Yankees to Trump. I assumed Trump could afford it; now it appears he could not. Later I realized George was twice as smart and had more compassion and social conscience than Trump.
Tennis: Trump had a box at Ashe Stadium, right above the media section. For yooge matches, he would materialize up front, leaning on the railing, like the captain of a ship, but I noticed that his head and eyes never moved. He didn’t watch the ball. I realized he was preening, advertising himself. Or possibly it was a cardboard cutout, one inch thick.
Boxing: I am an abolitionist toward boxing. Let’s start with that. A boxer, Stephan Johnson, died after a fight in the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. A few days later, Trump took my call and I reported his tone as shaken, but his rationale for boxing was this:
“'You have to understand that we do not sanction the fights. That is done by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Commission. All we are is the venue -- and fighting is popular. Every fight sells out. We have other things like gymnastics; they don't sell out. All I know is, boxing sells out.''
So there you have it. It was easy to feel he was a lightweight, who built gaudy buildings and postured. I was always making jokes about Trump trying to build Brasilia on the edge of Manhattan. Now he is the darling of many religious folk and flag-waving patriots.
Rachel Maddow said after the debate the other night that most people would be nervous if somebody with Trump’s facial twitches sat down next to them on an airplane. What did we in New York do wrong in not taking him more seriously? Mea culpa.
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Here are some old columns in which Trump is a convenient target.
9/30/2016 03:36:15 pm
Trump also sponsored a bicycle stage race for a couple of years -
9/30/2016 05:11:46 pm
Jerry, great to hear from you. Still riding?
10/1/2016 03:13:14 am
Another guy with a brother named Fred was my intro to Trump, Imus, who had him on his show, fairly often if I recall correctly, in the '70s. They were good friends, or so it seemed, until they weren't. Imus suddenly started saying what a jerk he was.
10/1/2016 09:46:10 am
Bob, nice to hear from you.
10/2/2016 10:26:49 am
Thanks, George, apologies for being away. You remember Imus better than I do, I just kind of have a vague 70s memory on NBC "50 thousand watt radio station" kind of stuff. He used to come in either drunk or high sometimes, yadda yah.
10/2/2016 04:34:37 pm
George--No shame in poking fun at versatile lout in so many sports as he was not running for president at the time.
10/2/2016 10:32:55 pm
Alan, the accountant in the NYT tax story notes that when Trump came to do taxes, Ivana did most of the talking.
10/2/2016 07:14:55 pm
George, what do you think about the Wednesday game? I'm excited about it!
10/2/2016 10:33:57 pm
Brian, oddly enough, I do have some thoughts. I will peck them out Monday morning. GV
10/11/2016 05:52:23 pm
Thank you very much for your post! Have a good day guy
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.