Apr 13, 2023, 06:29AM

Let’s Play Two! It’s That Kind of Year

Up above, wide-smiled Mr. Ernie Banks and Carl Perkins are jamming, loving MLB’s pitch clock, and wondering what in the world is transpiring in the United States.

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Business first: I approve of MLB’s pitch clock (if not the bigger bases). On Monday night, the Red Sox/Rays game, despite an unfortunate result for Boston, was played in just two hours and six minutes. And if the Rays (and always the Yankees) begin an 18-game losing streak this week, I’ll double that approval.

As noted in two recent columns and when I daydream—a luxurious pastime—it’s often about The Jetsons/Time Tunnel/Mr. Peabody and Sherman sort of time travel. I conjure up a storyline and then embellish and embellish some more, and whether I’m at Fenway Park in 1912 for the World Series or sitting in the fifth row for James Brown’s Apollo show in October, 1962, it’s a refreshing break from this modern world (though, truth be told, my mind has wandered in this direction since I was a boy), kind of like the “power nap” fad of the 1990s, although 10 minutes of shuteye in the middle of the day struck me as pointless. I’m surprised Jane Fonda didn’t have a four-year daytime TV series on power naps, although on second thought maybe cheering on the Braves with then-husband Ted Turner left her tuckered out. The Tomahawk Chop made you feel the burn!

The United States is currently in a The Great Age of Entertainment era, as the old saw “truth is stranger than fiction” is presented daily. Not sure if I could summon the creative muscle to concoct the scenarios that are unfolding in 2023. A lot of fellow citizens are concentrating on “World War III” Donald Trump—and have been since 2015; although those of us who lived in New York decades ago suffered the less enjoyable hijinks that were splattered on the front page of the New York Post (mainly), and I remember one morning in 1994 when my Tribeca neighbor John F. Kennedy Jr. and I were in the same bodega and he tore through the Post, guffawing at a Trump headline and then cutting ahead on line to pay for two bananas—and why not?

He gives good and crazy laughs, whether he’s drone-striking Ron DeSantis (who definitely has a Mt. Rushmore-size Excedrin headache trying to figure out the best strategy to combat the loosest of loose cannons who spends most of his time somewhere in the swamps of Palm Beach; that was, for the first and last time, a “shout-out” to the corpulent Chris Christie) or bragging he’d broker peace between Putin and Zelensky during lunch. What a kook! I suppose eggheads would frown at my cynicism, but those eggs are cracked, my fellow Americans, and if you name more than two substantial differences between the administrations of President Sippy Cup (who thought he was the Easter Bunny on Monday at the annual White House lawn egg roll; and I ain’t talkin’ to you, Mr. Egg Roll Norton, despite your several advanced degrees from Yale that prepared you for a stint as a MAGA-supreme in Arizona) and Trump, I’d be surprised.

Moving on from a very intelligent sitcom to Deep State drama—and, as some know, the TV show Rubicon (2010), specifically laid out the way America works, and that’s why it was yanked off the air after just 13 episodes, and never mind the superlative performances from actors James Badge Dale, Arliss Howard, Lauren Hodges, Roger Robinson, Michael Cristofer and Dallas Roberts—isn’t swell that 69-year-old Bobby Kennedy Jr. has announced he’ll run against Biden in the 2024 Democratic primaries? No-longer-young Bobby was once seen as the “smart Kennedy” of that clan’s third generation—and he is very smart, as I saw when interviewing him for New York Press in 1998—but was tossed to the curb for heroin use (even junked-up, he was far more passionate at the 1980 Democratic Convention than his hapless Uncle Teddy), philandering, siring about 29 more Kennedys and many, many skeletons that Bill Clinton mostly neutered during his two terms in the Oval Office. Bobby, probably the most famous anti-vaxxer—and author of The Real Anthony Fauci—in the country, which has pushed aside his pro forma/rich guy climate change/green advocacy—said on Twitter: “My top priority will be to end the corrupt merger between state and corporate power that has ruined our economy, shattered the middle class, polluted our landscapes and waters, poisoned our children, and robbed us of our values and freedoms.”

A Kennedy/Trump election next year is in the realm of science fiction, but when the phrase “topsy-turvy” no longer means anything, you just never know, and such a match-up would be so lucrative—for news outlets, book publishers, advertising and political consultants—that it might wipe out the recession altogether! It’s too bad that Brian Cox—the now-deceased Logan Roy in HBO’s Succession, a show I didn’t care for at the start, but has whipsawed into small-screen wizardry in its final season—was born in Scotland, and ineligible for the presidency, and can’t lumber into the New Hampshire/South Carolina scrum on the Democratic side. He’d out-Bernie Bernie.

Returning to the nuttiness of the tech world, there was an eye-popping story recently in The Wall Street Journal about the pre-layoffs days at major companies, who “hoarded” employees in case they might be necessary. Madelyn Machado, 33, tells the WSJ reporter that she was paid $190,000 per/annum at Meta and did about one lick of work. She was let go because of her TikTok posts and now has a small “coaching” business. Machado was blasé about her Silicon Valley experience (even though she lived in Tampa) and you get the feeling that getting “money for nothing” set her up for success.

Not so jolly was another Us vs. Them story in The New York Times that laid out, in a really padded story (does the Times pay by the word and not page views today? Kidding!) about the ups and downs of men and women who make food deliveries for the likes of Uber Eats and Door Dash. One fellow was crestfallen when his drop-off of a $388 sushi order at a tony Brentwood home in L.A. yielded a tip of just $20. I don’t believe I’d be so parsimonious (and rarely use these delivery services since about seven things can go wrong) with that pricey an order, but then again, it’s not like the sushi was consumed at a restaurant where diners, except for nasty cheapskates, would normally add 20 percent for the “food server.” I think the reporter, Kellen Browning, could’ve spiced up his story immensely by charting the tips that Times Co. executives (and columnists) hand over for their own Uber Eats orders. I’d guess that would be the equivalent of the above-mentioned Madelyn Machado posting on TikTok (and who doesn’t post on TikTok!) but if Browning was let go undoubtedly a higher-paying job at The Atlantic would be received the very same day.

—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER2023


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