Best of the Best: Boston College’s New Hall of Famers

July 30, 2014

One Coach and Nine Student-Athletes Will be Inducted on Friday, October 17 and Presented at Halftime of BC-Clemson Football Game the Next Day

With Cathy Inglese, winningest coach in the history of  Boston College women's basketball.

With Cathy Inglese, winningest coach in the history of Boston College women’s basketball.

Today I got down to work on one of my most enjoyable annual assignments: interviewing and writing up the life stories of the newest members of the Boston College Hall of Fame. I spent a few hours with Cathy Inglese, the all-time winningest women’s basketball coach in BC history. Cathy coached at BC for 15 seasons, had an overall record of 273-197, and brought the Eagles to seven NCAA Tourneys and three appearances in the Sweet Sixteen.

Cathy is a most fitting choice and is the only coach among the inductees. The rest of the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 are student-athletes. And yes, that’s for real; all were top-notch students. Three of them played ice hockey. The other sports represented with one inductee each are volleyball, field hockey, track & field, softball, baseball, and the first-ever inductee in the sport of fencing.

Allison Anderson ’07 (volleyball): A three-year captain and BC’s career leader in aces (133), digs (2,176), and digs per set (4.92). After graduation, she received the Weaver-James-Corrigan Award, an ACC postgraduate scholarship for excellence both on the court and in the classroom.

Bob Dirks ’09 (field hockey): A three-time All-American and 2006 ACC Offensive Player of the Year. She started 77 out of 79 games and finished her career as BC all-time leader for goals in a career (62) and points in a career (150).

Jeff Farkas ‘00 (hockey): Played four years and was All-American and a Hobey Baker finalist in 2000.He is BC’s sixth all-time in scorer (190 points). He also received BC’s Outstanding Male Scholar-Athlete Award and was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kasey Hill ’07 (track and field): The first BC track & field athlete to earn All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 2007. She also competed in the heptathlon at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She holds BC’s record holder in both the pentathlon and heptathlon, and she is among the top five in the 55m hurdles (8.02), 100m hurdles (13.91), 200m (24.85m), shot put (43’0.25”), javelin (123’0”), and long jump (19’0.75”).

William Hogan, Jr. ’33 (hockey): The Bill was responsible for reviving the sport of ice hockey at Boston College during the Great Depression and for recruiting his Cambridge neighbor John “Snooks” Kelley to be head coach. He led the team in scoring in 1932-33 and went to a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard Law School. His son Bill Hogan III, Class of 1963, is also a Hall of Fame member. Bill Jr. will be a posthumous induction; he passed away in 2012 at the age of 100.

Marty Reasoner ’98 (hockey): The breakthrough recruit in coach Jerry York’s rebuilding of the hockey program, Marty played for three years and led the team in scoring each time. He was All-America and the team leader in the NCAA Frozen Four Year of 1998. He went on to play 15 years in the NHL.

Kim (Ryan) Scavone ’03 (softball): A two-time captain, she was Big East Rookie of the Year in 2000 and Pitcher of the Year in 2003. She ended up as Big East career and single-season strikeout record holder, and she was a first-team Regional All-American in 2003.

Paul Taylor ’04 (fencing): Boston College’s first Rhodes Scholar and holder of a doctorate in astrophysics, Paul is BC’s first fencers to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. He was a three-time NCAA Regional finalist, twice qualified for the NCAA Championships, was 2002 New England Collegiate Foil Champion, and has BC’s most career wins as foilist.

Jeff Waldron ’99 (baseball): A catcher, Jeff was captain in 1999 and twice All-Big East first-team. He ranks first all-time in walks (99), third in on-base percentage (.441), fifth in runs (138) and seventh in batting average (.341). He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1998 MLB draft.

Once again, BC Varsity Club has nominated a most impressive group of people. They’re great representatives of the school. I’m looking forward to getting the program book written up, and to the induction ceremony in October.

*****
P.S. This is not related to the Hall of Fame, but I don’t want to lose this opportunity to let you know of the October 7 release date for Tales from the Boston College Hockey Locker Room, co-authored by Reid Oslin and me. It’s a history of Eagle hockey that traces the evolution of the sport from the days of “ice polo” in the 1880’s all the way through BC’s six national championships.

That’s right – six. BC has won the NCAA Championship five times. But before that tournament even existed, the Eagles took the National AAU Tournament Crown way back in 1942. After winning it, they were presented with the George V. Brown Memorial Trophy, which was emblematic of the championship of amateur hockey in America.

Full disclosure: George V. Brown is my grandfather. So you know that made it into the book!

Click here to go to the order form on Amazon.

Will You Do the Fandango?

June 19, 2014

(Cultural) History I Never Knew:
Scaramouche, Scaramouche. Who is That Guy?

Scaramuccia, also known as Scaramouche or Scaramouch, is a roguish clown character of the commedia dell’arte, which began in 16th-century Italy.

A Royal Doulton mug of Scaramouche

A Royal Doulton mug of Scaramouche

Scaramuccia (literally “skirmish”) wears a black mask and, sometimes, glasses. He entertains the audience by his “grimaces and affected language.” Another such minor character is Coviello, described by painter Salvator Rosa as, (like Scaramouche) “sly, adroit, supple, and conceited”. In Molière’s “The Bourgeois Gentleman,” Coviello disguises his master as a Turk and pretends to speak Turkish. Both Scaramouche and Coviello can be clever or stupid—as the actor sees fit to portray him.

Scaramouche is also one of the iconic characters in the Punch and Judy puppet shows, which have their roots in commedia dell’arte. In some scenarios, Scaramouche is the owner of The Dog, another stock character. During performances, Punch frequently strikes Scaramouche, causing his head to come off his shoulders. Because of this, the term “scaramouche” has become associated with a class of puppets with extendable necks.

The accompanying picture is that of a Royal Doulton mug of Scaramouche.

Many of us who are unfamiliar with Italian comedy or with Punch and Judy first heard of Scaramouche in Bohemian Rhapsody:

“I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
(Galileo) Galileo.
(Galileo) Galileo,
Galileo Figaro
Magnifico.

“I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity.

“Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let me go!)”

The fandango is a lively couples’ dance usually accompanied by guitars, hand claps and castanets.

“Bismillah” is an Arabic word that means “in the name of God.” It is used at the head of almost every chapter in the Koran.

Hey – who said you couldn’t absorb some serious culture by watching “Wayne’s World?”

Joining the Team at Curry College

June 1, 2014

June 1 2014 (6)aI’m pleased to be the newest staff member of the Writing Center, one of the many services of Curry College’s Academic Enrichment Center. Earlier this week I met with my colleagues, a passionately dedicated group of writing professionals who love working with Curry’s energetic students.

Other offerings pf the AEC: Math Lab; Peer Tutoring and Teaching Assistant Program; Athletic Study Halls; Education Support Specialist Program; and Academic Classes including The Academic Writing Process, Read Around the World, Competencies for Prospective Educators, Peer Teaching in the Disciplines, Study Abroad Seminar, and Discovering Boston.

I’m looking forward to September. Go Colonels!

The Worldly Wisdom and Wit of Judith Wax: Book Review and Personal Reflection

May 15, 2014

Altered Aspirations
I once wanted to grow up to be Grantland Rice. He was the classics-steeped dean of American sportswriters who came up with “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again…” To my young mind, that line was perfection itself. If only I could write like him!

Author Judith Wax

Author Judith Wax

That was until I read Judith Wax. She was my first professional crush. I wanted to write like Judith Wax. I still want to.

Grantland Rice wrote about sports. Judith Wax wrote, for the most part, about a much more interesting subject: women.

In 1973, she burst onto the journalistic/literary scene with “The Waterbury Tales,” subject of which was the Watergate scandal. It was a wonderfully creative, funny, and stylistically accurate parody of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”

Judith was 42 years old at the time. Her poem was picked up by several national publications, and she quickly became a hot commodity as a magazine feature writer and interviewer.

Judith’s first book was “Starting in the Middle,” published in 1979. The prologue begins

“Whan that forty with his hot pursuite,
Play happy birthday to yow on his floote,
And even they who marathon hath wonne
Can no the moving calendar outronne,
When heads that hadde blacke hayr, and blondys,
Discovyr in ther midst some straunge strondes,
Whan dimplyn’ folks flesshe with cellulyte,
And troubyl creepin’ in on smal crow’s feete,
Whan Mothyr Bell hath print her book too smalle,
Whan movying hands writ HOT FLASSH on youre walle,
Than starts the pilgrimage thru middle ages,
A tryp the OLDE WYFE tel in these pagys.”

Is that not brilliant? This is what “The Waterbury Tales” was like. As soon as I heard she’d done a book, I bought it, devoured it, and eventually lent it to someone who never returned it. Just recently, I bought another copy via Amazon. I love it even more than I did 30 years ago.

Back then, I longed to be as clever and witty as Judith Wax was with her similes, metaphors, literary allusions, and observations. One of the worst shocks about middle age, she suggested, was finding out that no one is really in charge. I can’t disagree with that.

She titled a chapter about raising her children “Slouching Toward Bettelheim.” In a piece titled “The Latest Wrinkle,” she interviewed people who’d undergone cosmetic surgery. She wrote

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may is still advice for virgins
For this same flower that smiles today too soon seeks plastic surgeons.”

In that same article, Judith went on to surmise that people feel comfortable talking to her about having face-craft done was for the same reason she could draw them out on such sensitive subjects as child-rearing and marriage problems: that we are comfortable talking with those “…as least as far from perfection as we are…Would you ask Cybill Shepherd whether she thinks your laugh lines are all that bad?”

The chapter concluded with a personal anecdote. Near the end of a vacation trip, she and her husband had gotten up early to catch a flight out of Rome. Her makeup-less face was the “worst Roman ruin around” as her husband shoved her into a tiny hotel elevator where she came face-to-face with Catherine Deneuve.

“Has any middle-aged woman ever had a crueler confrontation at dawn’s early light?” Her spouse had arranged for himself, she said, “…a close-up comparative view, cheek-by-jowl, of Catherine and me – Beauty and the Creased.”

In an earlier chapter she wrote that she’d met her husband at college, went steady for two years, got “pinned” and then engaged, and married him only partly because, in the dark garage behind her freshman dorm, he had explained “Sex is an integral part of life. Nobody had ever said ‘integral’ to me before.’”

My First Impressions

Wax - book2When I first read this delightful work so long ago, I marveled at all that – Judith’s humor, artistry, and self-deprecating personality. Also, like any male who’s honest will admit to, I couldn’t get enough of her confidential talks with thoughtful, experienced women on such topics as beauty, sex, and marriage. Several of the chapters have material like the above that had originally run in magazines like Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. None of them were on my subscription list.

Here’s just an example of such a discussion. In a chapter on women who’ve had, or are contemplating, an extramarital affair, she begins “…a lot of us didn’t discover the possibilities of the double life until we’d been hit by the possibilities of the double chin.”

She interviewed a woman named Norma, twenty-one years married, who admitted to fantasizing for years about “…an aging Prince Charming somewhere around who had the balls to break my spell.” In anticipation of such a liaison, Norma secretly built up a stash of “adultery underwear.” Pantyhose had not yet arrived on the scene, so she bought a flame-red latex girdle with black lace, so as to distract her lover-to-be from the ugly girdle grippers that held up her stockings.

As it turned out, Norma never did go through with her plans to cheat on her husband, and stated, “It’s too late for the red girdle. But maybe just as well. With my luck, I probably would have picked a man who would have asked to borrow it.”

Re-Visiting and Looking Deeper

Going back to Judith and re-reading her three decades later was even better. Much better. My appreciation for her work, when I was young, could never have matched what I felt and realized about her the second time around.

Why? Because I’ve been through middle age myself. Like Judith had, I’ve heard Time’s Winged Chariot at my back. I too have worried about my looks and my physical and mental capacities. More telling, I’ve lost dear friends to cancer, as Judith did. Some beautiful ladies I know would be worthy interviewees for her.

Judith Wax gets to the heart of the matter in her conversations with people. She captures them and tells their stories with grace, respect, good humor, and loving sympathy when it’s needed. That’s the kind of writer I try to be.

About friendship and her own life, she says “The best thing about the midyears, at least about mine. Is the depth of the friendships. The worst thing can be losing them. It’s to be expected that in middle age, mortality is not only intimated, but sometimes delivered, that pain and loss are birthday presents no one asks for.”

Bringing her own experience into the matter, she goes on about “The December day the wittiest friend I’ve ever had had come home from the hospital. I brought her homemade soup and instant lies. Both offerings were meant to comfort (me as well as her); neither could be swallowed with ease any more. I found her sitting at her living room window, watching the melting snow. ‘I’m sitting here in a blaze of optimism, planning my garden,’ she said. We both laughed, an astonished burst, and then stared at each other in shocked recognition of what had been unspeakable between us, that maybe she wouldn’t live to see the garden’s blossoming. She didn’t.”

That passage cut right through me. I’d been there too. It was just a few years ago that Bobby, beloved and admired companion of my youth, was fast losing his battle with cancer. Our lives had diverged and I hadn’t seen him for a long while. Knowing he wasn’t doing well, I temporized about going over to the old home town. Would he even be well enough to see me? Will he want to? When his reply to my query came back almost immediately, “would love to see you,” I promised to be there the next day.

I had him all to myself for about three hours – a lot of laughing and reminiscing, a few long-wondered-about questions asked and answered, and just a little reflecting on the rotten hand of failing health he’d been dealt. He wasn’t able to drink the half-quart bottle of Schaefer beer – one of our favorites – I’d bought him for the occasion. I left, feeling tremendously guilty at how healthy I still was but grateful that I’d had the chance to talk with him once more. That day was the very last time I could have done so. He was dead within a week.

I suppose I could go on and on with examples both funny and poignant, on topics like emptying-nest angst, Jewish-mother-guilt, psychiatrists and rebellious children, career versus stay-at-home, the instant and unwelcome change of social status that comes with widowhood, and coming of age sexually. But maybe, if this review/ reflection appeals to you, then you could go and find a copy of the book. It’s out of print, but can be found on line.

The Key to Happiness?

While Judith Wax doesn’t purport to dispense advice, much of what she wrote is wisdom to be heeded. I’d like to cite one more passage as an example because I, too, have known people who’ve done what she tells. I also know people who’ve gone the opposite way in their lives.

On the topic of aging gracefully and happily, she mentions two women. One is wealthy, the other nearly penniless. But they both “…share continuing engagement. What their newspapers tell them each day is infinitely more interesting to them that what their mirrors do (though both are strikingly, and painstakingly, attractive). ..And whatever sneak attacks fate has prepared for them, they have stayed participants in a larger sphere than self-concern.”

Haven’t you met them too? Some people who can’t get enough of life, or can’t give enough? And others who have already quit at age fifty?

This compact little book is both Judith Wax’s self-introduction to her reading public and her smiling embrace of her own life and her future. At the end, she returns to the style of Chaucer and writes,

“I telle you that ripeness is the beste.
I vow that midlyfe’s bettyr than the reste.
I swear young folk have naught on myddl-agyrs,
(I swear, also, I’m Far y-Fawcett-Majyrs.)”

A Tragic Ending

“Starting in the Middle” was the only book that Judith Wax wrote. She and her husband were passengers on American Airlines Flight 191. Leaving Chicago on May 25, 1979, the plane crashed on takeoff from O’Hare Airport, exploding into a roaring fireball that killed all 271 people on board instantly.

For me, who believes that there’s a story worth telling about everyone, Judith Wax will always be an inspiration, an interviewer and storyteller to emulate. Here, that word means to imitate with the hope of equaling or surpassing. I doubt I’ll ever get there. No one did it better than she.

History I Never Knew, and Almost Never Got the Chance to Learn

May 6, 2014

King Richard III: Killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the End of the War of the Roses.

King Richard III: Killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the End of the War of the Roses.

King Richard III: How Historians and Archaeologists Got There Just in Time

In 2012, archaeologists discovered the body of King Richard III buried under a parking lot in Leicester, England. Then they were able to verify the body’s authenticity at the very last second of history available to them. Had they waited just a few more years to unearth those bones at the site of the old Greyfriars Church, no one would have been able to tell for certain whether the body was that of the king – a guy whose reputation was trashed so unfairly by William Shakespeare.

Analysis of the bones revealed that the deceased had eaten a diet of seafood and meat, which was consistent with that of a nobleman of those days. But to be sure it was he, they needed the DNA to match.

It had to be mitochondrial DNA, the only kind that passes through the generations unchanged from mother to child. Mitochondrial DNA can be preserved down the female line indefinitely. They found that genetic material in Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born cabinetmaker and the 17th great-nephew of Richard III.

Michael Ibsen was the last possible source of DNA for Richard III. Through all generations to the present, there had been at least one female relative to keep the mitochondrial DNA of Richard III alive. But now there are no more female descendants, so when Michael Ibsen dies, that line will go extinct. They found Mr. Ibsen just in time.

Yes, Your Majesty, “Delay leads impotent and snail pac’d beggary.” But this long delay is finally over for the last English king to die in battle.

Whatever else his exaggerated faults and failings, Richard III was a brave man.

In Pace Requiescat.

An Address to 2014’s New England College Hockey Award Winners

April 17, 2014

Remarks Delivered at Presentation of 62nd Annual Walter Brown Award, New England Hockey Writers’ Dinner, April 16, 2014 in Saugus, Massachusetts

One of my favorite Bible passages is a single line from the Book of Proverbs:

“Remove not the ancient monument.”

To me that means never forget where you came from. Always remember who brought you here.

That’s what we’re doing tonight, and every year, with the Walter Brown Award and with all the others you’ll hear…Joe Concannon, Bobby Monahan, Leonard Fowle, Herb Gallagher and the rest.

When we select winners of these named awards, we are honoring both the achievements of the present – yours – and the good works of the past – theirs. Just as the Bible tells us to do. Hockey people do as the Bible says.

My uncle Walter Brown did many great things in his long career as a sportsman. But he was the first, and the most energetic, promoter of American amateur hockey on the international scene. His college boys rewarded him with America’s first world championship in 1933.

Writers like Bobby and Joe and Len loved your game, they loved the players who were just like you, and they made sure to tell their stories to the world. Hockey is much richer for the lives they all led and the work they did.

I congratulate all those we’re honoring tonight and wish you the best in your upcoming chapters, whether they are with blades on your feet or not.

And to those who leave here with their names inscribed on these various memorial awards – you’re getting something that’s extra special and unique. Your name will always be associated with hockey people who are the best of the best.

I think I can speak for them when I say that they are proud to be associated with you too. They’re cheering you now from the Second Balcony.

The winner of the 62nd annual Walter Brown Award, to the best American-born Division One hockey player in New England, of the Herb Gallagher Award for best forward in New England, and the Leonard Fowle Award for Most Valuable Player in New England, is a member of the Calgary Flames by way of Boston College, “Johnny Hockey” Gaudreau.

Annals of Sportsmanship: Coach K. Channels Coach W.

March 22, 2014

Much has been made – and rightly so – about Mike Krzyzewski’s classy post-game visit to the Mercer locker room. Coach K. congratulated the Bear players after they had upset Duke 78-71 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Bravo. We see too little of that nowadays. I suspect there’s more of it going on than is reported; after all, media bias is always towards controversy rather than comity. But when a captain of the sporting industry such as Mike Krzyzewski does something classy like this, it simply must be reported.

Coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Shawn Walsh:  Classy, Frequent Winners Who Were Gracious and Sporting in Defeat

Coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Shawn Walsh: Classy, Frequent Winners Who Were Gracious and Sporting in Defeat

Here’s a story of another such sporting gesture. Back in March of 1998, Boston College’s hockey team defeated Maine 3-2 in the Hockey East championship game. Black Bears’ coach Shawn Walsh visited the Eagles’ locker room after the game to extend his congratulations.

But Walsh took it a step further. He admonished the BC players to not be satisfied with the win. He told them that they were good enough to go all the way to win the national championship, to believe in themselves, and not to let up.

BC had endured six consecutive losing seasons before that breakout year. Getting that far was quite an achievement, and, quite probably, few of the players had expected to be national contenders when the season began. It’s about attitude, not just talent. Walsh knew what he was talking about, and he drove that message home.

As it turned out, BC went to the NCAA Championship Final game that year but lost in overtime to Michigan. But they have been a contender for the title in almost every season since 1998. I can’t help but think that Shawn Walsh’s visit to their locker room that night had a lot to do with it. Class wins out. So does sportsmanship.

Maine hockey was the Duke basketball of its day. Walsh had taken over a mediocre program in 1984 and brought it to two national championships. His 1992-93 team went 42-1-2.

The final game that Shawn Walsh coached was against that same Boston College team. BC defeated Maine 3-1 in the 2001 NCAA regional final and went on to win the national championship at last. Already ill with renal cell carcinoma, Sean died at age 46 in September of 2001. It was a terrible loss to the world of hockey.

This is playoff time. The games of today will always bring back memories of the clashes of yesteryear. We remember best those stories that go beyond the game scores and trophy presentations – the stories that remind us why we love our sports. The story of Coach Krzyzewski in the locker room will carry down through the years. So too should the story of Coach Walsh in the BC locker room.

Here’s to you, Shawn!

Hockey Memories

March 10, 2014

Winthrop High School celebrates the 50th anniversary of its hockey team this year. Though I did not go to WHS or play on that team, those days hold particularly fond memories for me. I was one of the “Saturday morning hockey gang,” the Winthrop kids who were introduced to organized hockey by the late Mort Buckley. Just a few years after it got rolling, in 1976, Winthrop High hockey won the state championship. My youngest brother Jackie played a prominent role in that tournament.

In 2007, a group of the Saturday morning kids led by Winthrop’s leading citizen Richard Honan raised funds for a plaque in honor of Mort Buckley. I did a writeup of that day and posted it on the net. Here it is again, in case you missed it. Winthrop Honors the Founding Father of Its Hockey

Go Vikings!

An Address to the Massachusetts All-State High School Football Team

March 2, 2014

IMG_7919aMaster of Ceremonies’ Welcoming Remarks
Delivered at the Super26 High School Football Awards Dinner
March 2, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 16th annual Super26 dinner, co-hosted by the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association and the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston.

I know I speak for both organizations when I say thank you for being with us this evening. You’ll hear from their presidents shortly.

If I were the president – president of the United States – I’d be thanking you too. And we’d be holding this gathering in the White House, and the award presentations in the Rose Garden.

That’s because what you’ve done is critically important to our country. To the fabric of our society. To what makes us Americans. You may well be the ones who are standing in the front lines, holding back a trend that is not good news for America.

I hope I’m wrong about that. But it’s worth mentioning.

When Alexis de Tocqueville traveled around this country back in the 1830s. He wrote his monumental work, “Democracy in America.” He was trying to tell the people of the Old World why America is unique among nations.

What he said then, I think, is just as true today as it was 180 years ago.

Americans are individual achievers. They strive to better themselves in ways that Europeans never imagined. But Americans also put that individualism together with that of others whose values they share. To strive for a common purpose, in community groups that are independent of their king and theig government.

DeTocqueville called that “self-interest properly understood.” It was a check on the tyranny that Americans had come here to escape. It was unique. It made America, America.

This is political philosophy, but it’s relevant to our gathering this evening. I got to thinking about it recently when I read a Wall Street Journal Article about trends in youth sports participation. Over the last five years, those trends are not encouraging.

In the four most-popular team sports – baseball, basketball, soccer, and football – combined participation by both boys and girls is off by 4% between 2008 and 2012. In some places, it’s worse. Ohio high-school basketball is off 15%. Sales of baseball bats are down 18%.

According to the soccer federation’s physical activity council, the percentages of inactive youth are up from 15% to 20%.

During those same five years, the population of six-to-17 year olds went down by less than one percent. Translation: same number of kids, a lot fewer of them playing team sports.

What’s going on here? Yes, there is a heightened fear of injury. But these numbers are from all sports, not just the contact ones.

Is it too much technology, and social networking, and video games? Have sports become too expensive? Is it not that much fun anymore, to be a member of a team, unless you’re an elite player?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But if these figures tell of a real sustaining trend, it’s a problem for America. And if it’s a problem, what you are doing is the solution.

The Center for Disease Control has been telling us that childhood obesity is way up since the 1980s. And our political leaders are blaming sugary drinks in high school cafeterias. Wrong.

Being physically active is the way to overcome obesity. But that is just one big benefit. Being physically active, in the context of a team sport, brings so much more. Self-control. Discipline. Pushing your own limits. Contributing to your group’s success. Understanding your own role and responsibility to others.

Or, as Mr. DeTocqueville would say, seeing to your self-interest, properly understood. The essence of America.

Playing team sports, and representing our schools and communities as you do, is one of the many things that make this country exceptional.

Super26 members, you’re the cream, and I congratulate you. But the cream can’t rise to the top unless it’s part of big jug of milk.
We’re honoring you tonight, but we’re celebrating all of your team mates. And your coaches and officials. They’ve all made possible what you’ve done. And they, like you, have done their parts to keep this great country strong and great and exceptional.

That’s why, when I’m elected president, we’re moving this dinner to the White House. I hope I’ll see you all there.

History I Never Knew: From the Annals of Mixology and Medicine

February 28, 2014

The Monkey Gland

The Monkey Gland

Hey guys – looking for a “potent” cocktail to order the next time you’re out on the town?

Try the following: 2 ounces gin, 1 1/2 ounces orange juice, 2 dashes of grenadine, 2 dashes of Pernod or Bénédictine, and a twist of orange peel.

Tell the bartender to shake the gin, orange juice, grenadine, and Pernod with ice, then strain it into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish it with the orange peel.

And be sure to order it that way and not by its name, lest you provoke a snicker from a bartender who knows the drink’s history. This cocktail is a Monkey Gland. And its history is an interesting one indeed.

Harry MacElhone, owner of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, mixed the first Monkey Gland in the 1920s. He did it in recognition of the work of French surgeon Serge Voronoff.

Serge Voronoff (1866 - 1951)

Serge Voronoff (1866 – 1951)

Voronoff was born to a Jewish family near Voronezh, Russia in 1866. He emigrated to France at the age of 18, where he studied medicine and learned surgical techniques of transplantation under tutelage of Nobel Prize recipient Alexis Carrel. Between 1896 and 1910, Voronoff worked in Egypt, studying the retarding effects that castration had on eunuchs. That experience led him to his later work that ultimately gave the world the Monkey Gland cocktail.

Voronoff perfected the technique of transplanting testicle tissue from various primates into men. This, he claimed, would increase both longevity and sex drive. His research was bankrolled by a daughter of Jabez Bostwick, first treasurer of the Standard Oil Company. He started off transplanting testicle tissue from younger animals into older ones – sheep, goats, and bulls – and claimed that that the older ones became stronger and more vigorous.

Eventually, Voronoff moved to human male patients and began grafting thin slices of baboon and ape testicles into them. He wrote a book titled “Rejuvenation by Grafting.” The poet e.e. cummings wrote of “a famous doctor who inserted monkey glands in millionaires.” Irving Berlin’s song “Monkey-Doodle-Doo,” featured in a Marx Brothers film “The Coconuts,” has a line, “If you’re too old for dancing/Get yourself a monkey gland.”

About 500 men underwent the procedure in France, and thousands more around the world did too. They included Harold McCormick, chairman of the board of International Harvester and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, military hero of World War I and president of Turkey.

The operation was in such high demand that Voronoff set up a monkey farm on the Italian Riviera. He gained fame and made a lot of money. The procedure was fashionable until the 1940s, when its ineffectiveness became known throughout the scientific and medical communities.

Voronoff was quickly discredited and became the butt of jokes. He died in 1951. His reputation did not recover any ground until the 1990s when discovery that the Sertoli cells of the testes constitute a barrier to the immune system. This makes the testes an immunologically privileged site for the transplantation of foreign tissue. So, in fact, the thin slices of monkey testicles implanted by Voronoff may have survived to produce some benefit.

More recently, there have been successful experiments in reducing insulin requirements in diabetics. The techniques involved implanting into the diabetic patients pancreatic islet cells from pigs. The pig cells were coated in Sertoli cells, which insulated the pig cells from attack by the patients’ immune systems. No immunosuppressive drugs were required.

So maybe we should raise a glass to the good Doctor Voronoff after all. Need I suggest what drink we quaff in his honor?


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