John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: January, 2015

Bill Belichick Has Underinflated Balls

Special Monday Edition


Back in the day, Vince Lombardi supposedly once proclaimed as head coach of the Green Bay Packers: “All I want is my unfair advantage.” Not surprisingly, so does every other head coach in the NFL but it appears that Bill Belichick has taken this concept to a true art form. We may never know just how far Coach Belichick has been able to refine the practice of one-upmanship but it has earned him the honorary title of “Bill Belicheat.”


The coach is already the NFL equivalent of a convicted felon thanks to “spygate,” and it appears his quest to find his unfair advantage knows no bounds or limits. Spygate cost his team, the New England Patriots, and himself personally, a boatload of money and their number one draft choice. But rather than repent, it turns out that he is as unrepentant and as incorrigible as Richard M. Nixon. Like Millhouse, Bill just can’t let well enough alone. Nixon was on his way to kicking George McGovern’s ass in the 1972 presidential election, but he couldn’t resist letting his brain trust; Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Mitchell and their operatives, Colston, Hunt and Liddy unleash the Plumbers and raid the DNC headquarters in that DC complex known as Watergate.


Nixon was forced to resign, but Bill just keeps rolling along defiant and unapologetic. It seems what’s good for New England is good for the NFL and what’s good for the NFL is good for New England. Let’s examine his current “alleged” transgression.


Possibly, the coach wasn’t happy with his balls and those of his quarterback, Tom Brady. They were just too big for their liking so they conceived a plan to shrink then during the AFC Championship Game so they would be easier to grip. This is a no-no and the Indianapolis Colts, their opponent who they crushed on the playing field in Foxboro, complained to the league. When the story first broke, quarterback Brady commented on a Boston sports radio station, “Ha, ha, ha, I think I’ve heard it all at this point.”


To quote the late Mandy Rice Davis as to Brady using the defense of incredulity, “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he!”


Coach Belichick denied any knowledge about balls, underinflated or otherwise and smartly threw his quarterback under the bus, Paraphrasing the coach: Balls this and balls that, you’d better ask Brady how he likes his balls. Personally, I know nothing about any stinkin footballs. Wait, it was the cold, the rain the atmosphere that made it go soft, yeah, that’s it!


Brady was equally erudite: The essence of his Q and A was: I pick out de footballs; they put them in de bag and give them to me when I need them. That’s all I know.


So far the NFL it’s commissioner and the Patriots’ owner, Robert Kraft, aren’t talking, but I’ve got this feeling that ultimately this will be blamed on an anonymous and under-paid ball boy who (per a rumor I am starting) is on his way to Pyongyang on a slow-steaming Cypriot freighter. Bon voyage, ball boy.


How to punish the Patriots, Brady and Belichick as they prepare to face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX but still allow the game to go on?


I asked fellow NFL fans their feedback and here are the results:


Tom from Waco: “The deflatriots will try to get an edge any way they can even if it means violating the rules and they deserve some kind of punishment.” How about crucifixion?

Mike from Bridgeport: “I am so sick of this crap out of Seattle referring to the fans as the ‘12s.”  Mike believes Brady & Co. should play with their smaller balls while the Seahawks use cement balls.

Vodka Bill from Mastic Beach concurs: “Tom and Bill can’t cheat enough. I am sick to death of Carroll and all that crying, kissing, hugging and praise the Lord stuff. Are there no men?”

Bob from The Bronx: “Make him hire Perry Fool as his defensive coordinator.” Bob’s not a big fan of the Giants former defensive coordinator.

Bill from Florham Park: “Balls this and balls that, enough is enough. Fire Belichick, suspend Brady for the 2015 season and let’s go J-E-T-S, jets, Jets, JETS!”

Bob from Wantagh: “Not cheating; cold weather conditions compress pressure.” Tom from Maplewood, “I concur.” Steve from Ridgewood, “Ditto.”

Dave from Hauppauge: “It’s not about whose balls are bigger, it’s how to beat the spread.”

Geoff from Brunswick: “The league should be in charge of all balls. Have a Balls’ Umpire.”

Marty from Piscataway: “Rumor has it that Brady first tried pine tar for a better grip but that lead to the tuck rule.”


You decide. As for me, I hate Seattle, the city, the team, their uniforms, their hippy-hoppy coach their cops and their coffee and especially their obnoxious fans. A pox on the Seaturds: GO Pats go!




…And the Subways Keep Rolling Along

For several generations beginning at the end of the Second World War, the New York City subway system became vilified as unfit for decent people. Never charming, it was reduced to less than civilized by being referred to in demeaning terms like, “rat heaven, the muggers express and the electric sewer.” Rider ship declined as post-war families flocked to the suburbs. Then neglect, old equipment, lousy service and finally crime came to represent the norm. Those who could, avoided it; those who could not, endured.

Some booze, some snooze,

If you snooze they’ll steal your shoes

And the subways keep rolling along.

There were some improvements along the way, air conditioned trains were introduced in 1970, but the comfort of a/c was greatly offset by that scourge of the Seventies, graffiti! Subway cars became graffiti magnets with messages, slogans and name tags covering entire trains, inside and out. Panhandlers of every description worked the trains auditioning their marginal talent, trying out personal shticks to raise cash or begging either benignly or with the suggestion of violence.

Crime soared as respect plummeted reaching a point so low that we measured the safety of day trips by exiting the system before junior high and high school male animals invaded the underground seeking unsuspecting prey during their daily afternoon passages. Their lawlessness culminated when Bernhard Goetz shot four young troublemakers who threatened him.

Koch’s administration was the beginning of a turning point that Dinkins’ incompetence reversed for his four years in office.  Eight years of Guilani and twelve of Bloomberg finally produced a renaissance that lifted the spirit of the city as crime rates diminished and subway rider ship soared with riding the trains at all hours becoming the norm.

In 1997, I experienced a rare Saturday night encounter when I entered the station under Eighth Avenue at Fiftieth Street for the short ride to Penn Station. Concerned that this was a dubious choice, instead I was shocked to find the platform crowded with well-put- out young adults just beginning their night on the town. Even though it was close to midnight they eagerly lined the platform waiting for the next downtown C Train to take them to So-Ho, the meat packing district the Village or the West Village.

The arriving carriages were packed with more of the same, twenty something’s and thirty something’s in search of good times. Absent was fear or expectation of danger.

At first this experience was limited to the heavily traveled Manhattan trunk lines but, as New York City’s magnet attracted new generations of young, upwardly mobile residents this phenomenon spread to secondary lines running into Brooklyn and Queens. Over time  this same experience of safe passage spread across lines serving large parts of central and south Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Bushwick and various sections of Queens from Long Island City and Astoria and Flushing.

Still, the subway has never been charming and the old problems are giving way to different issues, issues of entitlement. The hipsters and millenniums desire for their own space is clashing with the reality that subways are a communal way of transport. The coaches are not the same as commuter trains. Seats are limited and the cars have been purposely designed to accommodate as many passengers as possible, most of them standing cheek by jowl during rush hour.

But to hipsters and millenniums, their entitlement doesn’t permit referencing history so overcrowding is a personal affront. Their grievances include, …”smells that offend, sounds that grate and personal grooming not appropriate for a public space. Riders seethe over frequent culprits; the door hog, the pole hugger, the litterbug.”

And the latest infraction; “Manspreading.”  The term may be new, but it’s an old ploy to prevent others from sitting on either side. Slouch down, spread legs and cover head. The guys, mostly young and uncouth who practice this defense know other guys don’t want the hassle to attempt sitting next to them and women find it revolting. So theses punks win their daily battle for space…and so it goes.

In a way though, it is charming that manspreading can be a cause de jure. I sincerely hope that these young, entitled riders are not being naïve lost in their own world of grievances. I sincerely hope that they comprehend the current state of affairs and understanding that New York has no more of a divine right to enjoy peace and tranquility than high-crime urban areas like Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia.

They should take pause over recent developments in the city under comrade Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s stewardship to consider if hizzoner is doing all that he should be to maintain their domestic tranquility. If not, manspreading will be the very least of their concerns.

Silly Season Arrives Early This Year

Yes, the world continues to spin out-of-control and, yes, we must endure mindless tragedies. But life goes on and includes articles that make it into newspapers that remind us how ridiculous life can be.


Let us begin our journey of this the first silly season of 2015 with a discussion of the term, “pied-á-terre.” To proceed, I must first admit that I am part of the unwashed who didn’t have a clue what this term of art meant until Saturday, January 9th when I read a piece in the Real Estate Section of The New York Times entitled: Why the Doorman Is Lonely. The author, Julie Satow, used this expression 11 times in her front page piece. For those of you also unfamiliar with pied-á-terre, the definition is: “A temporary or second lodging.”

Ms Satow’s used this term to emphasize her explanation that a significant percentage of upscale condominums and co-ops in NYC (25% to 40%) are not occupied by their owners. This apparently has significant tax and abatement ramifications but reading about it in the detail she provided is slightly less painful then setting my hair on fire.


Item number two: Amateur athletic status versus ESPN, the NCAA, the big time football conferences*, college playoffs and money, Money, MONEY! (*Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Pacific 12, Big 12 and Big Ten.)

ESPN has ponied up $7.2 billion to televise the three playoff bowls for five years including the championship game played on January 12, 2015 in the AT&T Stadium (ex Cowboys Stadium) between Oregon and Ohio State a game the Buckeyes won, 42 to 20. All three games were incredibly successful generating the greatest viewer ship ever for any broadcast on all of cable television.

In recognition that these are their biggest amateur sporting events of all time, the NCAA has deemed that the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is a right and proper part of the game day experience. So much for the absolute ban on any alcohol at all NCAA sponsored events including March Madness.

Further proof that the championship game is different, the participating universities can now grant each student-athlete up to $3,000 to pay for his family’s travel expenses. In the battle over whether or not football players should be compensated by their schools, put these developments in the yes column.


Item number three: FBI and Justice Dept. Said to Seek Charges for Petraeus. Oy vey! David Petraeus should have quit while he was ahead as a retired four-star general who led American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and a genuine American hero. But no, he accepted the president’s offer to become Director of the CIA, he was broadly supported by the Senate that confirmed his appointment. And then there was Paula Broadwell an Army Reserve officer who became his biographer and his lover.

He resigned in 2012 when their affair became public and now the FBI alleges that classified documents have been found on her computer and contend that Petraeus provided them to her. He says he will not take a plea deal to avoid trial. It is up to the Attorney General Holder to make the decision whether to seek an indictment a decision Mr. Holder said he’d make before the end of 2014 but didn’t. Now that this is front page news, it will surely end badly.


Item number four: A statue of Mohammad taken down from a New York City courthouse. This story has the implication of being topical and important. When this New York Appellate Court House next to Madison Square Park was designed, the builders included nine eight-foot marble statues of classical lawgivers to be placed on the roof. Included was one of the prophet Mohammed. Over time, both the building and the statues needed serious refurbishment and it was only then that it became public knowledge that the prophet was among them.

Debate followed over the appropriateness of this piece of art and the Egyptian, Indonesian and Pakistani embassies together with prominent Muslins objected to the State Department. Wiser heads prevailed and the statue was quietly removed during the renovations. The other eight were rehabilitated and reinstalled, but the prophet was “… spirited off to a storehouse in Newark.”

Just one problem with this piece by David W. Dunlap; the courthouse was erected in 1902 and the removal took place in 1955. Please explain to me what’s the point of this piece is except to contrast an age of naïve innocence with our current world of insanity.

Dunlap noted that the statue was last seen in 1983, “lying on its side in a stand of tall grass somewhere in New Jersey.”

I wonder if this field is the same mythical Jersey swamp where all of the bodies and artifacts of the lost New York are said to go? If so, perhaps it marks the place of Jimmy Hoffa’s grave?

Paid in Full

(Author’s note: This piece is based on an article by Jeffrey E. Singer and Kirk Semple published in the January 3, 2015 edition of The New York Times. All interpretations and opinions are my own.)


Such is freedom’s siren song that it empowered a forty-nine year old teacher and well-respected calligrapher to leave the life he knew in Toishan, China and take passage half-way around the globe to Brooklyn. Twenty-four years passed as Zhao Ru toiled in a life of relative obscurity working in local garment factories and Chinese restaurants.


Last month, another Chinese immigrant, police officer Wenjian Liu and his partner, Rafael Ramos were struck down by an assassin as they sat parked in their patrol car on a Bedford-Stuyvesant street. Mr. Zhao instinctively knew what his mission was to be, “I could use my calligraphy to memorialize the officer. What a pity it is. He was such a good police officer. He was an only son.”


Acting on his own, Mr. Zhao began contemplating his task to create the funeral scroll that would be a vital piece of the fallen officer’s wake and service. He had done this before and he was used to being hired by friends and family of deceased individuals to create works that would ease their burden and provide inspiration. But this was different, Mr. Zhao knew he had to reach deeply within himself to create the symbols that said what must be said.


And so on Friday, January 2, 2015, he left his Bay Ridge home and set out on the streets of Brooklyn carrying his bamboo brushes and rough drafts in a canvas bag. His first stopped at the Xinhua Bookshop and Stationery Supply in Sunset Park where Jerry Lin helped him select the ink and paper. After some confusion, Mr. Zhao explained, “This is for Wenjian Liu.”


Mr. Lin, who like many others who mourned Officer Liu in this tightly-linked Brooklyn Chinese community, was staggered by this revelation and insisted all material…”is on the house.”


Mr. Zhao also spent time with Dick Chen Lee, a feng shui master from his home town in Toishan. He sort out Mr. Lee’s guidance to help him find the inspiration to write the scrolls before going to the Aievoli Funeral Home in Bensonhurst. For three hours Mr. Zhao crafted three scrolls that he would hang across a significant threshold in the home.


On the two scrolls that would form the vertical columns on either side of the threshold, Mr. Zhao drew seven Chinese characters. One set of characters proclaimed, “In the sphere of law enforcement his vision is left unrealized.” The other read, “For his service to the people, his name will forever be cherished in our hearts.” Mr. Zhao drew four characters on the third scroll that he placed across the top of the threshold: “A model for all police.”


Stepping back from his work, Mr. Zhao explained that “(Officer Liu’s) spirit had moved me to conjure this work.” The dead officer’s spirit had such a powerful affect that gave Mr. Zhao the inspiration he needed. “I rarely see a calligrapher who makes characters of this quality. Without this, the room would lack the high quality of the life he led.”

Officer Liu had given his life to protect the freedom Mr. Zhao had sought 24 years ago and Mr. Zhao had selflessly used his talent to repay that debt.