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Friday, April 30, 2010

ND Rap Video elicits letter

Notre Dame Outdoes Super Bowl Shuffle3

4/30/2010 11:49 AM ET By John Walters

John Walters
College Football Writer
To: Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame
From: John Walters, '88
Re: Ever Being Able to Wear ND Gear in Public Again

Dear Fr. Jenkins,

Hasn't the Class of 2010 suffered enough? Four straight losses to USC. Two home losses to Navy. The 3-9 season. A first-round NCAA tournament loss to Old Dominion (which, okay, if it were women's hoops, would not be so awful) before half the student body had even woken up that day. And now, just a week or so before graduation, this video, which we've also embedded later in this letter along with some other reviews of the thing.

There needs to be an investigation. Isn't this exactly what the NCAA means by the term "lack of institutional control"? I've watched many a disturbing video in the past decade (the Zapruder film, those Sarah McLachlan animal-cruelty ads, Miss Teen South Carolina's "U.S. Americans" response), but this tops them all. Or bottoms them.

Honestly, Padre, whither the self-inflicted wound? This is like a fragging incident without the live ammo. If I'm Lane Kiffin I open every press conference next season with this tune.

My editor sent me a link to this video on Friday morning, warning me that it was disturbing news related to Notre Dame. Before opening the link, I was a'feared the video might contain incriminating footage of a certain head coach with a certain former South Bend anchor woman. If only it had been that tame.

Fr. Jenkins, you're an alum. Please tell me this is a joke. Please tell me this is an hilarious outtake from The Keenan Revue and you thought it would be fun to release as a social media experiment. Please tell me you're deaf.

Losing at home to Syracuse...and Pitt..and UConn...and Air Force...and of course the aforementioned Midshipmen (twice!) the past three years provided more than enough "laughing-stock" fodder for the rest of the country. But this--this is like finding out that Charlie Weis stayed up late watching game film in a Snuggie (and I wouldn't put it past him).

I don't even want to get into the details: The pilfering of the bass line from Morris Day and the Time's "Jungle Love." The white rap interlude from someone who appears to be the president of the Notre Dame Young Republicans (I know, redundant). The Mike Golic and Brian Kelly cameos. When Appalachian State's promotional video is better than yours, that's just sad.

Seriously, how many verbal decommits will it take before Notre Dame disassociates itself from this unbearable whiteness of being? Even "Up With People" is laughing at this video. Suddenly "The Super Bowl Shuffle" doesn't seem so abominable. The Vatican just this morning released a statement that read, "We acknowledge, accept full blame and express the deepest remorse for decades of improper behavior regarding altar boys, but we had nothing to do with the Freakbass video."

The reviews are already shaking down like thunder:

"If ND can land Manti Te'o in a snowstorm, Irish recruiting can survive this."
--Bruce Feldman, ESPN.com

"If ND leaders had any hand in this, I take back any nice things I said about them in today's column."
--Andy Staples, SI.com

"I like Freekbass' early stuff, but he's just getting too commercial now."
--Brian Hamilton, Chicago Tribune

"You can tell that this is a Notre Dame music video because it has no hot girls, just a lot of cute ones."
--Dave Fink, Dillon Hall, '88

"Dear Dude who punched out Jimmy Clausen: I have another job for you. Holler back."

I'm trying to imagine the meeting in which this video got the green light.

"Let's do a music video to promote Notre Dame because, you know, we just never seem to get any attention."
"Great idea! Let's get U2. They're Irish. They're Catholic. And I've been watching ESPN lately and they seem to be into that whole football thing."
"I don't think we can afford U2."
"Who can we afford?"
"Are you familiar with the funk stylings of...Freekbass?"

Earlier this month a few Purdue students conjured up a video that went viral entitled "Boobquake". They do Boobquake and we do this? Somewhere Jim Delany is laughing and re-thinking the wisdom of inviting Notre Dame to join the Big Ten.

Fr. Jenkins, we all have our moments of embarrassment associated with Notre Dame. Two of my friends once penned -- and sent- - a letter to a female high school basketball player from Iowa who appeared in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" imploring her to attend our fine institution (she did not). Another buddy handed in a term paper that began, "Moses was a very historic man." I may (or may not) have appeared on the front page of The Observer taking a nap in the library as spittle dropped from my lip.

But we were young...and subsisting on a diet of Meisterbrau and Doritos. What's the administration's excuse?

I'd like to think that this is my alma mater's nadir. I'd like to think that. But then I imagine Digger Phelps dancing to this tune next season accompanied by two extremely uncomfortable cheerleaders and I realize that the worst is yet to come.

PS I wont link it. You'll have to find it yourself. I am not responsible. ABT

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Patrick Coughlin (#29) is a throwback to Don Hogan (#44)."

"...a senior accounting major named Patrick Coughlin was the second-leading rusher (75 yards, 11 carries)" in todays spring practice finale at ND, the Blue Gold game. I didn't recognise Coughlin's name. I guess he's a walk on, kind of a Rudy, only better.

The reference to Don Hogan was what made my heart stop for a second.

"Don Hogan, Notre Dame's leading rusher in 1962, has died according to an e-mail from the Irish's sports information department. Hogan gained 454 yards on 90 carries and scored three touchdowns that year, when Notre Dame went 5-5 under Joe Kuharich." Don Hogan passed away in 2007.

I was two years behind Mr Hogan at Saint Ignatius, a sophomore when he was a senior.
That was the season when Tony Carey and the Mount Carmel Caravan played Dick Butkis' CVS team for the city championship. and I lived in Mount Carmel's back yard, so Don didn't get a lot of recognition in my neighborhood, but he was a "living legend" in his Beverly neighborhood.

After his great sophomore season at ND, over the Christmas break, Don was in a car accident on the way home fron his girl friend's house. His sister was in the car with him, and was killed. Don's hips were so badly crushed in the wreck the initial prognosis was very bad "never walk again" kind of thing.

Of course he did rehabilitate himself and was determined to rejoin the Irish on the field, spending a lot of time the next year running the stadium steps, trying to regain his strength. It was spoken of in hushed terms my freshman year at ND, his obsessive determination. Sadly he was soon afflicted with severe arthritis and had to give up his hopes of returning to the team.

His senior year, he wrote a letter that tne new coach, Ara Parseghian read to the team the first day of practice. A gipper kind of message about the times, in games or practice, when players were fatigued or discouraged, asking that they think of him and of how much we would give to be able to be there with them. Parseghian and that team went nine and one, losing the last game of the season to USC, after having lost seven out of nine games the year before.

I knew Don had joined his father's company after graduation, and I didn't hear or think of him much after that, so seeing his name was almost like a ghostly apparition. I hope he had a good forty years and is in heaven today.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I was preoccupied this week with tax stuff,

but now in the calm of a beautiful Saturday evening, still happy about attending Malachy's first T-ball game earlier, I'm contemplating the big news of the last couple days with a sense of serene detachment, and wondering, is this what a black swan looks like?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Owen and POPPO

I baby-sat Owen at his home once or twice when he was at a young and impressionable age. Since I couldn't smoke at Stephie's house, I would take him outside and sit on the back porch or the front steps with him on my lap to have a cigarette. He was interested to be out of doors after dark, and observed me smoking closely. Somehow these occasions became one of his earliest learning experiences, but maybe he was too young to differentiate because the aspects of the situation merged into one.
POPPO to Owen was not just my name, it was the experience of going out for a smoke.
Now at two he's figured out that my cigarettes are generally in my shirt pocket and that he can reach the package when I pick him up. So now when we get together. he happily calls "poppo" "POPPO" "POPPO", until I lift him, and then his hands are in my pocket for my smokes. He extracts the flip top box and pulls out a cigarette which he hands to me then another which he keeps for himself. "Out" he says, "Later". I say, and usually he doesn't insist. But eventually, we get out into the yard. He usually just carries his cigarette around and doesn't mimic the motions of my smoking but occasionally exhales as if blowing smoke.

I think it's an interesting little ritual, and am glad we share it especially since imitation is the highest form of flattery. The rest of the family shows more forbearance than amusement. But now the problem is getting a little out of hand because Owen wants Janett to feed his habit when she visits without me, and not just at home but at the park and at the local malls. Aside from the mild embarrassment Janett feels at being in the company of such a young tobacco fiend, she generally resists being told what to do by a two year old. "POPPO POPPO POPPO" he cries, while Janett promises herself that she will cut back on the visits until Owen has grown through this stage.

And if you think I'm a bad person for allowing the child such liberties, let me say in my own defense that no matter how often he asks, I won't let him have my lighter.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

They're back.

It's been a long day and I'm tired, but wanted to give a little reconition to the courage and resolve of the Thai people in the face of corruption and opression. You could search this blog for "Thailand" to see previous updates on this struggle.

BANGKOK (AFP) – Bangkok was under a state of emergency on Thursday after anti-government protesters stormed the Thai parliament, but the demonstrators remained defiant and said they were ready for "war".

Lawmakers fled and several senior government figures were rescued by military helicopter after the red-shirted supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra forced their way into the parliamentary compound briefly on Wednesday.

The protesters idolise ousted former premier Thaksin and tens of thousands of them have been rallying in the Thai capital for weeks, at one point splashing their own blood at key locations in a grisly show of defiance.

To contain the growing crisis, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva invoked emergency rule Wednesday, banning public gatherings of over five people and giving broad powers to police and military in Bangkok and surrounding areas.

"The state of emergency aims to resolve the situation and bring a return to normal," Abhisit told a nationally televised news conference.

The premier, who has cancelled a trip to the US for a nuclear security summit next week due to the unrest, said the mass rallies were unconstitutional and had tarnished the country's image, eroding investor confidence.

It is the fourth time since 2008 that emergency law has been declared in the capital because of political turmoil.

But thousands of protesters flouted the decree, waving flags and cheering as their leaders railed against Abhisit's government from their rally stage close to a clutch of luxury hotels and giant shopping malls.

"We have to prepare for another war. If the military comes you should not panic -- just stay put," Reds leader Veera Musikapong told protesters.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have refused to leave the city's main commercial district, where they have been since Saturday, disrupting traffic and causing major stores to shut.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban urged people with relatives rallying in banned areas "to tell them to leave immediately," adding that authorities would provide transportation for demonstrators from outside Bangkok.

The United States Wednesday rebuked the protesters.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Redemptive Sacrifice

I went to Willow this afternoon for Easter service, although it seemed to me to be a little premature. Perhaps a good thing, because Easter morning we all celebrate the Resurrection, which demonstrated Jesus' power over death, and held the promise of resurrection for His followers. But on Saturday we have only to celebrate the crucifiction and death, something I never thought to do.

But His death, not His revival, was the redemptive act, and I think would have been sufficient even had He not returned in His transformed body to console and inspire His followers before ascending into heaven. Somehow, I'd come to think of it as a heartbreaking loss on friday with a big comeback win on Sunday. At this moment I'm feeling that Friday was the victory, and Sunday, while still worth celebrating, was not the most important day of the week.

This is new to me, and some have probably prayed over this already. Let me know if I'm missing something.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The Anglo Irish Bank of Dublin failed last year. The bank had lent a lot of money to builders in the boom early this century, contributing to successive years of 6% GDP growth, and references to Ireland as a Celtic Tiger. But of course, commercial property values have fallen now almost by half, and loans aren't being repaid, and the bank's gone bust. The government estimates cost of a bailout at 30 billion dollars. Hmmm, Ireland has 4 million people. That's $7,500 for every man woman and child in the country.

The quoted cost of the TARP to date is 306 billion dollars, with 513 having been loaned out and 207 having been repaid. The TARP money didnt include the bailouts of the mortgage giants Fannie May and Fredddie Mac which are estimated at another 126 billion. So, not including whatever shady deals the Fed is managing, bailouts of financial industry has cost $431 billion. The US populatiom is just over 300 million, so the per capita cost to date 1s $1,435.

Neither of these numbers include other stimulus or welfare costs.

Aren't you glad you're nor Irish?

I wonder how to compute the cost for Icelanders, since the government couldn't bail out the biggest banks and let them go into receivership. Four or five big banks there were paying close to 10%, drawing deposits from around the world to make risky loans. Of couse the loans went bad and the banks failed. The government deposit insurance was supposed to reimburse depositor losses in excess of $22,000, but just paying off foreign depositors would cost the men women and children of the population of 300,000 $16,000 each, a hefty sum considering the Icelanders have already had their savings wiped out by the bank failures. The Icelandic government has said it would try to pay off the foreign depositors when it is able, but doesn't sound very hopeful. Correct me if I'm wrong but I can't think of anything Icelanders have to sell except herring, and they have to import everything else.
Maybe they could organize an ad campaign like Chick-Filet, with the cows holding signs that say "Eat More Herring"