Super Bowl Sunday

So for the 50th time, it’s Super Bowl Sunday in America, and around the world. Might be a good game, occasionally it is (for whatever your definition of good is). Best one I ever saw was Super Bowl XX: daBears against the Pats, about which it was said, “If they don’t score, we can’t lose”. But I grew up with The Monsters of the Midway, and even now, when I’ve rather soured on professional sports, I have a soft spot for them (and the Cubs, as well).

But there was one, where I couldn’t tell you a thing about the game, but like a large portion of America, I was in tears before it ever started. That was Superbowl XXV, and it was only a couple days after Desert Storm had started.

Here from ESPN is the story of a legendary performance.

You have to understand.

You have to remember.

This is 1991. Before six people died in the World Trade Center bombing. Before 168 died in Oklahoma City. This is before 111 individuals were injured by a bomb made of nails and screws at the Atlanta Olympics. Before backpacks stuffed with pressure cookers and ball bearings blew limbs from people at the Boston Marathon.

Think back.

This is the tippy-top of ’91. Way before Connecticut elementary school classrooms in Newtown were strewn with bullets. Before a Colorado theater was tear-gassed and shot up as The Dark Knight Rises began. Before 18 people were shot in an Arizona parking lot, along with a congresswoman who took a bullet in the back of the head. You have to understand. This is before a young married couple in combat gear killed 14 at a holiday party in San Bernardino.

This is a generation ago. A full decade before the United States of America came to a brief but full stop — 2,977 people dead and more than 6,000 injured in three states. This was before three New York firefighters raised a star-spangled banner amid the sooty rubble of ground zero. In 1991, ground zero was just downtown Manhattan. If you were alive — if you were over the age of 5 — you must make yourself remember the time. In 1991, people are jittery, but no one stands in line in bare feet at airports. There are no fingerprint scanners at ballparks.

This is, like, pre-everything. There’s no Facebook — barely a decent chat room to flirt in. The Berlin Wall? Buzz-sawed, climbed over and kicked through. Mandela is free, and Margaret Thatcher is out. This is one-way pager, peak Gen X quarter-life crisis time — and it wasn’t called a quarter-life crisis back then. North and Saint West’s late grandfather had not yet read his friend’s letter to the world: “Don’t feel sorry for me,” attorney Robert Kardashian said to flashing bulbs. “Please think of the real O.J. [Simpson] and not this lost person.” This is the year Mae Jemison preps for the Endeavour, Michael Jordan is ascendant and In Living Colorand Twin Peaks stamp the kids who make prestige TV glow in 2016. Beyonce is in elementary school. Steph and Seth Curry are in a Charlotte playpen. Barack Obama is the first black president — of Harvard Law Review. The (pre)cursors are blinking.

“This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait,” President George H.W. Bush says in August 1990, and by the dawn’s early light of Jan. 17, 1991, a coalition of countries led by the United States drops real bombs on real people and real places in real time on four networks. This was the first Gulf War. There are no color-coded threat level advisory posters on airport walls, but the State Department and the Secret Service agree: The possibility of a terror attack is high, and Super Bowl XXV — the Giants vs. the Bills, scheduled just 10 days later — is a soft and glaring bull’s-eye.

The Goodyear blimp? Grounded. A Blackhawk patrols instead. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s annual Super Gala gala? Canceled. Concrete bunkers gird the parking lot of old Tampa Stadium, and a 6-foot-high chain-link rises quickly behind that. Canines sniff chassis, and ushers wave metal detectors. SWAT teams walk the stadium roof with machine guns. Alternate dates, due to a fear of mass casualties, are considered. For a Super Bowl.

“[It] was the shape of things to come,” former defensive back Everson Walls recalled in 2013 for USA Today. “The security was incredible. I think that’s the first time they checked bags and really were concerned about terrorist threats.”

It was tense. “Players were discussing privately if there would be a draft,” former Giants tight end Howard Cross said last year in the New York Post. “And whether our younger brothers might be drafted.”

There is a ghost game hovering too — the one played two days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. It is known as the NFL’s “mourning game” and opened with a lone bugler playing taps. Pete Rozelle was ravaged in the media for going through with it. He’d struggled with the decision, and it haunted him his whole career. But Commissioner Tagliabue will not have the regrets of his predecessor. Tagliabue — a Jersey City basketball-playing attorney who’d represented the league against the USFL — arrived at Super Bowl XXV in a flak jacket. And he had Whitney Elizabeth Houston.

But there are more than 1,700 security professionals on the grounds. And if it seems every person is waving a tiny U.S. flag, that’s because a tiny U.S. flag has been placed on every seat. The field is a kaleidoscope of honor guard uniforms and team uniforms and kids doing a red, white and blue card stunt. Central is the entire Florida Orchestra — standing in full dress, signaling serious and formal.

Then Whitney Houston steps onto a platform — it looks to be the size of a card table — in a loose white tracksuit with mild red and blue accents. She has on white Nike Cortezes with a red swoosh. No heels in which to step daintily, and definitely not a gown. Her hair is held back by a pretty but plain ivory bandanna — there are no wisps blowing onto her face. No visible earplugs to take away from the naturalness of the moment. Everything is arranged to convey casual confidence.

Here we begin. Snare drums so crisp. Bass drum so bold. Houston holds the mic stand for a moment but then clasps her hands behind her back — it reads as clearly as a military at-ease. Her stance says: We came to play. Says, in the parlance of the ‘hood, and on behalf of her country: Don’t start none, won’t be none. All we have to do is relax, and we’re all going to win.

Like the best heroes, Whitney — the black girl from Jersey who worked her way to global stardom, made history and died early from the weight of it — makes bravery look easy.

Do continue reading The story of Whitney Houston’s epic national anthem performance at 1991 Super Bowl.

But one of the unique things about the Star Spangled Banner is that it ends with a question, the eternal question of America, “Does that Star Spangled Banner still wave over the home of the free and the brave?” It’s a question that every generation of American has been called on to answer, and so are we.

Enjoy the game, the food, the beer, and the camaraderie. Only happens once a year!

America!

You know, we say a lot of bad things here, seems sometimes like the world is going to hell in a handbasket. But America is still America, and yes the resistance lives on, even in NYC.

 

I can remember my dad talking about doing this, on the frozen Red River of the North, back in the teens, maybe 20s.

For you effete Europeans, this is how you deal with a blizzard with a couple of feet of snow — Go play in it!

Bill Whittle: Winning and Powerball

Well, there’s a few new millionaires (likely for now) in America, this week, due to a $1.5 billion Powerball. Bill Whittle has some thought on the futility of dreaming about the easy way, and what winning really is. He’s right, of course.

 

What’s that? Yeah, I had a ticket too, and no, I didn’t win, but I didn’t plan on it either. :)

Clash of Civilizations: Islamic vs. Judeo-Christian

OK, gang, I give up for now, I’m fighting a cold and writing isn’t going well. But here’s a friend of mine. And Dan is right.

Judeo-Christian civilization has nothing in common with, and nothing to gain from, Islamic civilization as it now exists. They have been clashing for centuries. Now, Islamic civilization appears to be winning in much of the European Union and, to a lesser degree, in America. 

Can anything be done to slow and then to halt the spread of fundamentalist Islam? Ayan Hirsi Ali hopes there is and that Muslims will do it. I also hope they will, but am quite dubious that it will happen in the foreseeable future.We need to take other steps promptly. […]

Fundamentalist Islam is a culture of compulsion and hate

Americans should learn far more than we have from the recent experiences of Sweden, Germany, England, France and other European Union countries in welcoming Muslims to Islamise their cultures. I posted a lengthy article on that on December 13th. If you haven’t read it yet, please do so now. It provides very helpful background for an understanding of the clash of Judeo-Christian and Islamic civilizations.

Here is a lengthy video by Walid Shoebat, once an Islamic jihadist and now a Roman Catholic opponent of Islam. Born in “Palestine,” he imbibed the Islamic culture of hate and compulsion as a youth, as did most of his acquaintances. Eventually, he changed from what he was to what he now is.

via Clash of Civilizations: Islamic vs. Judeo-Christian | danmillerinpanama.

And see that’s the thing, whatever you believe, you have a much better chance of NOT dying for your belief under Christianity. But I also know this: If we don’t defend our culture, we will lose, and Islam will win. Not only will we (as Christians) lose, but the relativists, who don’t understand belief in God, will lose even more badly than we will, for unlike them, we are, at least, ‘People of the Book”. and may survive (by submission) if we wish. Them, not so much.

Fairy Tales for adults

One of the songs that marks Christmas for me is ‘Fairy Tale of New York’, with the Pogues and the wonderful Kirsty MacColl; if I ever wanted to be anyone but me, it was Kirsty. I remember asking my daddy why he couldn’t marry her because she would make a good mum – he laughed and said ‘she’s already taken little one’; seemed a good idea to me – fathers, let the tiniest obstacle get in the way :)

It’s an odd Christmas song, but it is a powerful one, because, in part it reflects a version of the immigrant experience which fails to make it into the Hollywood version. The two characters are Irish immigrants, not too long out of the ‘awld country’ – he still says ‘happy Christmas babe’ (an American would surely say “merry Christmas”? She still uses the English vulgarity “happy Christmas my arse” rather than the American “ass”. Their dreams have soured – he’s in the drunk tank on Christmas Eve, and she hopes it is their last time. There is a sadness, the sadness that accompanies the death of any relationship. But is it dead? One of the reasons – apart from powerful lyrics and a great performance, it still works, is that like all good fiction, it doesn’t tell you what you’d like to know – it leaves loose ends and inferences you could read any way you liked.

So, when he says ‘I could have been someone’, she says cynically. ‘well so could anyone’, but his reply to her claim that he took her dreams away is heartbreaking in its vulnerability – ‘I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, can’t make it on my own, built them round you’. What a world there is in all of that, of young love frustrated, of ambition broken by circumstances, but also of the hope that springs eternal in the human heart – and the American dream.

Isn’t that what America is really about? That vision, that idea? Has there ever been a country founded on an idea of hope? Has there ever been such a hodge-podge of immigrants all battling and hoping, some falling, some rising, but however low you fall, always with the hope of rising? Is that why so many now feel a sense of despair – as though those times are gone?

I’m only a Welsh girl living far away, and probably, like Shane MacGowan, with a vision of America shaped by the movies, but I’d like to think that, just like the couple in the song, the fairy tale has a happy ending – and, of course, if it isn’t a happy ending, it isn’t the end yet.

For Christians, we are all ‘someone’ – beloved of God, in whose image we are made, and there is, in that, a reassurance. It is no accident – I think – that it was Christians from the West who had the vision and courage to create a great nation out of the wilderness they encountered. The ‘Shining city of a hill’ was their inspiration – and remains one for many Americans – however much secularists try to replace that dream with their own fairytales.

Good music and poetry (and good lyrics are poetry) have the power to transform things and to take us places in our imagination – and here, in a few short verses, we can see something profound about the immigrant – and the American experience – encapsulated. Either that, or I just have a vivid imagination – either way – something to share with all you wonderful people here at this season.

Leading From Behind

I want you to compare and contrast our current so-called leadership with that of the past, say FDR, JFK, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. If this is who we are now, China will soon rule the world, in combination with Putin. That is not a recipe for the advancement of humankind, but that is what is happening. From America Rising.

Hattip: Leading From Behind | Power Line

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