Saturday, October 24, 2020

Michigan Football Opener vs Minnesota


     The Little Brown Jug is the oldest rivalry game trophy in College Football.  It dates back to 1905 when Michigan coach Fielding Yost brought his own water jug to Minnesota.  Michigan left the jug in Minnesota.  They wrote and asked that it be shipped back and Minnesota respond:  Come back and win it.  Michigan has won the trophy 71 times, Minnesota 23, and they tied 3 times. 

After the kick-off, it is an inauspicious beginning to the delayed start of the 2020 Michigan Football schedule.  There has been a total of six plays from scrimmage and Michigan is down 7 – 0… and Michigan had the opening kick-off.

Michigan’s first play was a first down.  They suffered a penalty and went three and out.  Minnesota blocked the punt.  They took over on the Michigan 17.  Their first play was a run that stopped for a short gain.  On their second play, they threw for an easy touchdown.

They then kicked off to Michigan.  On their first play, Zach Charbonnet ran a huge hole and scampered 70 yards untouched for a touchdown.  Wow.  What first looked like a start to a long season, now looks like it might be more electric. 

One can’t judge on a mere 3 minutes into game one.

The Big 10 started their season yesterday, Friday October 23.  It was the day the most Covid-19 cases diagnosed ever during this pandemic.   The first decision by the Big 10 was not to play football at all this year.  I wrote about it back in August:  No Michigan Football.

Pressure mounted on the league to reconsider especially when the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 started their seasons successfully, showing it can be done.  The pressure came from the players, coaches, and even President Trump.  By the time the Big 10 made a decision to have a shortened season, they agreed to a nine game league only schedule with a start date of this, October 24th, weekend. 

While writing all this, Michigan and Minnesota have each scored twice.  Michigan leads 21 – 17.  One of the Michigan touchdowns was a hit on the Minnesota quarterback who coughed up the football right into a Michigan lineman’s arms who easily ran fifteen yards for a TD. 

I watched a few of the games today including last night’s opener of Wisconsin vs Illinois, Ohio State’s thrashing of Nebraska, and Michigan State’s loss to Rutgers due to too many turnovers.  In contrast to the surprising number of fans at some of the SEC and Big 12 games, the Big 10 stadiums are empty.  They are pumping in fan noise, I am assuming, to give the players and television audiences a more traditional feel to the games.  Most schools are also putting cardboard cutouts of fans of fans in the stadium.  These cardboard cutouts are, in fact, a revenue generator.  For $70, you can upload a photo and the university will print a cardboard cutout and place it in the stands.  I thought about doing it for about a millisecond and decided it was a waste of money.

By half-time, Michigan had a 35-17 lead.  Minnesota will get the ball to open the 3rd Quarter.

I am watching the game.  I am interested and, of course, rooting for my team.  But, it feels different in this crazy year.  The pandemic certainly puts a damper on my mood.  I watched no baseball, basketball, or hockey In their pandemic rescheduled seasons.  I had no interest.  I have watched some NFL and college football but as Michigan was not playing, I have watched much less than in other years. 

This month, the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan/Turkey has made sports and, for that matter, all television less relevant. 

Minnesota did take the 2nd half kick-off and engineered an impressive 70-yard drive to make the score 35 – 24.  Michigan responded with an equally impressive 70-yard drive of their own to make it 42-24. 

Earlier in the week, I read an article in The Detroit Free Press about Michigan Football.  In the article they predicted the Michigan game by game results for the season.  They had Michigan losing to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ohio State for a 4 – 4 record.  We do have a tough schedule and that was a bit of a depressing article to read.  Like most fans, I like to be optimistic at the beginning of the season. 4 – 4?!?  The article pointed out that Michigan had lost twelve starters.  I guess they had a point plus we were starting an untested quarterback in the promising Joe Milton.  So, is it a rebuilding year?  Heck, we have been rebuilding since Harbaugh took the head coaching job.  The difference between the good teams and elite teams is that the elite teams don’t ever rebuild:  they reload.  This is what Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State do.  Under Harbaugh, Michigan has been a good team.  It is a relief to have 9 and 10 game winning seasons consistently.  It is an improvement over the dismal Rich Rod and slightly less dismal Brady Hoke years. (But, dang, we have to beat Ohio State.)

Minnesota took the ball on like the 18 after the Michigan kick-off and had another impressive drive to first and goal at like the 7-yard line.  The Michigan defense dug in and held them stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback on passing plays.  On fourth and goal, Minnesota went for it and the quarterback on the run fired it over the head of an open receiver.  Michigan took over on downs.  On their first play, Chris Evans ripped off a 60-yard run.   Michigan went on to score making it 49-24… and Michigan missed two field goals they should have made. 

Both offenses look good.  Michigan’s look better.  Both defenses are so-so, but Michigan’s is better.  I am impressed with my team so far. 

Minnesota had another drive going and were in Michigan territory but a Michigan blitz and sack by Kwitty Paye not once but twice had them at 3rd and 28.  Then… Paye got a third sack in a row.  Michigan got the ball back and is driving with less than five minutes in the game.   The announcers just gave the Michigan offensive line kudos for keeping Minnesota’s defensive line on their heels. 

Michigan just missed a third field goal.  Minnesota took over on downs and at the 3 minute mark threw an interception.  Michigan’s ball on the Minnesota 30.  With the back-up quarterback in the game, Michigan got a first down and then turned it over on downs with 1:45 left in the game. 

The final and most satisfying score:  Michigan 49 – Minnesota 24.

The Little Brown Jug stays in Ann Arbor for another year.


Friday, October 16, 2020

Chidem Inch: Oh, It’s About Occupied Lands…


An open letter to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey.

 

Dear President Erdogan:

 

Can I call you Recep?  Actually, I am not sure why, but I prefer Reg or Reggie.

I do understand ego and your wanting usurp that Ataturk fellow in the minds and hearts of “your” people.  I understand the use of Islam to control your people.  It helps cover up your corruption and it gets them behind your thinly veiled ambition to be the second coming of an Ottoman Sultan and to establish a new Caliphate.  That is quite ambitious Reg.  I get it, you are megalomaniac.

You were masterful in ridding the military of all those secular, republican, generals.  That fake coup you staged in July 2016 was brilliant.  You basically established your lifelong rule in Turkey with that one act.  You purged the government and universities of Never-Erdoganers.  You even fooled the Western Press into believing it was a real coup. I mean, Reggie, what a gift you have.

I was curious, Reg, did you dream this shit up while sitting on the gold throne you built for yourself in your new palace? 

Lately, you’re taking a new tack.  Frankly, Reggie, I am none too pleased about it.  Perhaps is it the next phase of a master plan you have had all along.  You are actually trying to expand Turkey’s influence in the region by your incursions into Northern Syria.  It was in the news that you even drew up plans to invade and conquer Greece and Armenia.  It truly is an Ottoman obsession.

Now, you are backing your wayward cousins in Azerbaijan into an attempt to conquer those upstart Armenians in Kharabagh.  You even went so far as to say, “finish the work our grandfather’s started.”  I imagine if no other countries seriously complained and offered military assistance to Armenia, you would do just that as a first step to… what end?  A Pan-Turanic empire?

This week you had a meeting with your buddy Putin about this war with the Armenians.  You told him, and I paraphrase, that the Armenians must leave the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

Occupied territories?  Really?  You brought up the idea of occupied territories.  Reggie, Reggie, Reggie.  Sure, absolutely, let’s talk about occupied territories.  You can start by vacating all territories and properties inside your own borders that belong to the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians.  Give us the churches, homes, businesses, and schools the grandfather’s you invoked took from my grandfathers.  Really Reg… you brought up occupied territories?!?

Stalin gave the majority Armenian Kharabagh to a newly formed country Azerbaijan in 1921.  He did it to spite the Armenians.  The newly founded thing called Azerbaijan occupied Armenian lands then.  Six short years earlier, well, Reggie, you and the rest of the world know what happened.  Your grandfathers committed Genocide and occupied everything we had.

Occupied territories?!?  Give them back.  While you’re at it pay your tab.  Eleven years ago, in his book Children of Armenia, Michael Bobelian estimated you owed us $44 Billion in confiscated lands, buildings, and businesses.  That figure is probably $50 Billion now.  Your gold throne can be the down payment.  Occupied territories indeed.

I know Reggie.  Might makes right.  Your grandfathers evoked that in 1915 and you are trying to do the same right now. 

Occupied territories?!?  Ağrı Dağı bizimdir.  

 

P.S.  My friend Steve wants you to watch this video.  But, let's be honest here Reg... you already know these facts. 



Saturday, October 3, 2020

Chidem Inch: Really? Israel?

Azerbaijani Armed Forces have used the latest kamikaze drone
«Harop», production of Israel Aerospace Industries Israel Corporation
in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

     Our small nation, back against the wall, is facing an alliance of Azerbaijan and Turkey.  The numbers in terms of military spending and number of troops is lopsided not in Armenia’s favor.  Yet, as the Armenians are fighting for survival and using their forces as effectively as possible.

In the past two days, the Azeris have take to attacking the capital of Artsakh, Stepanakert, using drones.  The drones are made in Israel.

In an article in The Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2020, Azerbaijan uses Israeli LORA missile in conflict with Armenia, states the following:

Azerbaijan is a known ally of Israel, supplying The Jewish state with about 40% of its oil needs. The country is a longtime customer of an assortment of Israeli defense companies, buying drones, missiles and other advanced weapon systems.

 

In 2016, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev revealed that his country signed $5 billion worth of long-term contracts over the years to buy weapons and security equipment from Israel.

Trade between countries and economic agreements between countries is a fact of life.  When large numbers, like 40% of one country’s oil consumption and $5 billion of armaments headed the other way, there can be some very strange bedfellows.  The flow of large amounts of money dampens differences that usually cause enmity, such as one country being Moslem, the other Jewish, and both countries being in the Middle East.

The most bothersome part of Israel supplying drones, LORA missiles, and other arms to Azerbaijan is that they know Azerbaijan will most likely use them against Armenia.  There is one thing that Armenia and Israel have in common.  It is a pretty big thing.  Both peoples were subject to large scale slaughters of their populations.  For the Armenians, it was the 1915 Genocide by the Turks and for the Jews it was the Holocaust in Germany.  When peoples go through such horrors and national traumas of that magnitude, one would think they would be a bit sympathetic to each other, have good relations, and maybe even be allies.

But no.  Israel is hostile to Armenians in Israel, nothing like they are to Arab (mostly Moslem) populations, but hostile none the less.  The covet the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem and simply make it harder and harder for Armenians to live and prosper there.

Here is a country where many of their neighbors do not have good relations with.  They are in a sea of Islam most of which would love to see Israel wiped out and the lands to revert to Arab rule.  Armenia is in nearly the same situation.  Our two Turkic Islamic neighbors want to complete the job Talaat, Enver, and Djemal started in 1915.  And Israel is helping them by selling them munitions. 

In another article of The Jerusalem Post today, Erdogan, ‘Jerusalem is our city, city from us.’

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened the Turkish parliament's legislative session on Thursday with a long speech that addressed the city of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people, in which he stated: "Jerusalem is our city."

Erdoğan referred to the Ottoman Empire's rule over Jerusalem, which lasted four centuries (1517-1917), to justify his claim.

Money and trade trumps these issues.  It is not a surprise really, but it is very disappointing.   And… Armenia withdrew their ambassador to Israel for this very reason.

Shame on you Israel for aiding countries with Genocidal aims.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Chidem Inch: War in Artsakh

 


We awoke on the morning of September 27 to learn of fighting all along the border of Azerbaijan and Artsakh, the Armenian Republic that ceded from Azerbaijan in the 1990s.  The Armenian news and social media buzz were all about the attack by the Azeris using tanks, helicopters, and drones.  We also learned   that Turkey was involved in providing armaments and mercenaries to assist the Azeris. 

The hearts of Armenians around the world collectively sunk.  We all felt helpless and wondering why the Turks and Azeris cannot leave our people in peace.  We know that Armenia and Artsakh have less population and less money for weaponry that Azerbaijan.  The imbalance is exaggerated even more when Turkey is included. 

Here are some statistics gleaned from the internet.

 Various Sources

     I was surprised the military forces were approximately the same size, of course not including Turkey.  Military spending by Azerbaijan is much higher than the Armenian side due, no doubt, to the oil revenue in Azerbaijan. 

Erdogan has taken to call Armenia the greatest security threat in the region.  Really?  It is clearly not but when does truth have anything to maintaining power for that tyrant.  A much better case could be made for Turkey having that dishonor.  I fear that if the international community does not protest and put some military muscle behind it, Erdogan may take action against Armenia itself.  Who would stop him?  The US is quiet on the subject as is Russia as far as I can tell.  Of course, who knows what is happening behind the scenes.

Artsakh or Kharabagh has been a long time Armenian homeland.  During the Soviet times Kharabagh along with Armenian Nakhichevan became part of Azerbaijan which became a country in 1918.  Stalin, to punish Armenians for revolting in 1921 and to appease the Turks, gave both Karabagh and Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan.  All the recent aggression over Kharabagh has been initiated by Azerbaijan.   The Armenians there reacted to Azeri pogroms and the expulsion of Armenians from Baku in the early 1990s.  They defended themselves and declared independence.  They did not join with Armenia, I can only guess, in order of maintaining or not losing international support.

Thus far in this latest incursion, the Armenian defense forces have fared well thus far demonstrating superior resolve, tactics, and execution.  The people of Kharabagh have been known to be fierce mountain fighters.  It seems that Armenians have staved off the attacks suffering much less casualties and equipment losses then they inflicted upon the Azeris.  But, as we are so few, we suffer for each and every casualty.  

 Both countries have declared martial law and it is unclear what the next few days and weeks will hold.  Here in the US, the media reporting is minimal at best and putting the blame equally on both sides.  Of course, we Armenians do not see it that way.

One thing that is clear to me, in that part of the world, are the words of Khrimian Hayrig and Yeghishe Chartenz.   Khirimian Hayrig was Catholicos of the Armenian Church from 1893 until his passing in 1907.  He was not only the spiritual leader but also an inspirational national leader.

It was upon returning from the Congress of Berlin, where he was sent by the Armenian delegation to negotiate on its behalf, that he delivered his most famous speech, that of the “iron ladle.” He argued that Armenians had placed their hopes for salvation in others, rather than themselves. Hayrig used the allegory of a pot of harissa, a traditional Armenian dish, from which other countries were extracting what they wanted with iron ladles while he had been sent to secure concessions for the Armenians with nothing but a paper ladle. He thus implored Armenians to shed their timidity and become masters of their own fate. 

~ auroraprize.com

 Yehishe Charentz, the famous poet born in Kars, who was first a Bolshevik who became disillusioned as the revolution turned into Stalin’s dictatorship.  Charentz was killed in prison during the purges of the 1930s.  In a poem, Badkam, he sent a message to the Armenian people in an acrostic.  The secret message was very similar to that of Khirimian Hayrig:  Armenian people, your only salvation lies in your united strength.”  Indeed.

This week has united all Armenian.  It has shown us the iron ladle of resolve displayed by the leadership and soldiers in Karabagh.  

When given the chance, self-rule, and freedom, we do thrive.  That is what we hope and pray for:  to be left alone, to rule ourselves, and to work hard to improve our country.  I am not sure why successive Turkish Governments have an obsessive hatred for Armenians.  Leave us what lands we have left and let us live.  God preserve our troops and people.



Saturday, September 26, 2020

A Most Special Olympic Memory

    


The Armenian Youth Federation or AYF is an important organization in our family.  My parents met at an AYF Convention.  I met my wife at an AYF dance in which our band was playing.  The central event of the AYF is their Annual Olympic Games held every Labor Day weekend since 1933.  It has grown from a humble track and field meet to three days of sports and dances.  It was just AYF members in the beginning which quickly became a multigenerational event.  It moves from city to city and we plan our lives around it.  It is special in that we gather and create our own Armenia, a uniquely American-Armenian Armenia, for a weekend.  We arrive on Thursday evening or Friday full of excitement and anticipation and leave on Labor Day sleep deprived and ready to feel sad for several days it ended so quickly. 

Our Olympics is the longest running ethnic athletic competition in the US.  It must be noted that the other Olympics, you know, the international and globally televised one that occurs every four years is a bit touchy about other organizations using calling their events the Olympics.  We may be the only organization that actually has permission to call our games the Olympics. 

My Dad and his brother as well as my sister and maternal aunt are AYF Olympic legends.  They have been named Olympic Kings and Queens… a huge honor.  My aunt was the women’s high scorer for like twenty years to be surpassed by my sister.  My son was a good swimmer in the Olympics who outscored his great uncle to be the highest scoring Gavoor male.  My Dad?  He was a good athlete but a phenomenal coach and served on the Governing Body of the Olympics for several years.

Me?  I participated but never ever scored a single point.  But I have made up for by coordinating the reporting of the Olympics for the Armenian Weekly.  I write many articles and take about a third of the photos.  I have a team of four others that assist with the articles and photos.  Our team of Bob Tutunjian, Harry Derderian, Sona Gevorgian, Tamar Kanarian and yours truly do an awesome job if I do say so myself.

Did I say the AYF Olympics has happened every year since 1933?  Well, in this pandemic year, the Olympics were supposed to have been in Worcester where the first Armenian Church in the US was founded in 1891.  The 2020 Worcester Olympics were postponed until 2021. 

But, we still had an Olympic Special Issue of the Armenian Weekly.  We made it retrospective and reflective.  People shared their touching and humorous memories.  Our stalwart historian and statistician created the All Decade Teams from the 1930s through the 2010s.  We continued our writing and reporting labor of love.  My role was to collect and report memories.  Two of the oldest living Alumni, Varoujan Karentz and his sister Karentz Varadian of Providence, wrote beautiful articles as did Heather (Detroit originally) and Ara Krafian of Boston. 

Here is my favorite Olympic memory which was first published in the July 22, 2020 Armenian Weekly.

---

Like many of you, I have many wonderful memories of the AYF Olympics.  In the case of my favorite or most special memory, one came immediately to mind.  It is a memory from the 85th Annual Olympics Games in Philadelphia.  Yes, my favorite Olympic memory is from 2018, two short years ago.

It is special because it involves my first-born grandchild, Aris Gabriel Gavoor.  He was just four years old at the time.  It also involves my father, Aram “Sonny” Gavoor, who passed away in June of that year.

We were having breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning.  I was sitting next to Aris.  We were eating waffles and we were talking.  My wife Judy, his grandmother, asked him if he was excited to be running in his first kiddie race at the Olympics.  He nodded and said, “yes.”   A bit later, he turned to me and said, “You know, I am very fast.”  He said it in a kind solemn whisper and full of confidence at the same time.  I got the impression he was sharing some important privileged information with me.  I eloquently replied, “I see.  Thank you for telling me, Aris.  I can’t wait to watch you run.”

Later at the track before the opening ceremonies, I was taking photos of the long jumping, field events, and track prelims.  I found myself repeating Aris’s words to myself, “You know, I am very fast.”  Then, I was even repeating it out load.  I loved it.  I know Coach Sonny would have loved hearing his great-grandson say it. I was smiling each time I repeated it. 

My Dad loved the Olympics, he especially loved the Track and Field, his favorite part of the games.  All our family in attendance was a swirl of good emotions that day.  The emotions swirled even more, when in the opening ceremonies, the Detroit Team all sported t-shirts that said, “It’s Always Sonny” on the front and “Gavoor” on the back.  Coach Sonny would have loved that.  I loved that.  The entire family loved and were touched by this wonderful tribute.

When it came time for the kiddie races, both Aris and his sister Lara, two years old at the time, came down to the track.  They had on their “Future AYF Member” t-shirts.  Their father, my son Aram, passed them over the fence to me.  When I set them down on the track, they both took off running.  “You know, I am very fast.”  We had to catch them both and bring them back to the starting line.

The toddlers, the under four years olds, ran first.  Lara loved it.  She ran with a big smile on her face.  At the half-way point she stopped and waited for another little girl to catch-up.  Then, she ran right into the arms of her Gunkamayr (Godmother), Melanie Mesropian at the finish line.  The parents and official began the process, and it is a process, of getting the older kids lined up, Aris was at the line in a set position from the first call until the start of the race.  I was impressed with his focus and look of determination.  “You know, I am very fast.” 

When they started the race, Aris ran well.  Alas, he was not the fastest because he was amongst the youngest in the race.  He was no a match for the six and seven year olds.  He did, however, finish in the top third. But, he was not done.  He ran past his Gunkamayr and kept running.  He was not the first little guy to keep running.  It happens almost every year.  Most stop when someone catches them or they hear their parents telling them to stop.  No one stopped Aris.  He kept running.  Family, at first, called out, “Aris stop!”  He didn’t hear or more likely ignored those calls.  He was in a zone.  He kept running.  After 100 meters, cries to stop ceased and Aris kept running.  At the 200 meter mark, half a lap, it was clear Aris was intent on running the whole 400 meters.  And, he looked great doing it.  I loved his steady, four year old, pace and form that looked much older.  Coach Sonny was beaming from heaven as his great-grandson was running a victory lap for him.  “You know, I am very fast.” 

Olympic King Alec Sarafian, a coaching protégé of my Dad, was in the press box as part of the announcing crew.  I texted him to let him know who the little guy running was.  Alec announced, “This runner is Coach Sonny Gavoor’s grandson, Aris Gavoor, completing this lap.  Sonny is no doubt smiling down on this, let’s cheer him on as he finishes.”  The crowd did applaud and cheer Aris in his last 50 meters.  It was pretty awesome moment.

My family is Olympic royalty all the way.  My maternal aunt, Suzie Merian Arzoian, and sister Nancy Gavoor are Olympic Queens and long standing high scorers.  Coach Sonny and his brother, Buddy Gavoor, are Olympic Kings.  Our son, Aram Gavoor, is on the high scorer list just above his Great-Uncle Buddy.  Our daughter Armene was tennis player and swimmer.  Me… not so much or rather not at all.  I participated in several Olympics and never ever scored a point.

The other Coach Gavoor, Aris’s great-aunt Nancy, was very impressed with his form and that he was not winded at all at the end of lap.  She has been giving Aris some age appropriate workouts ever since.  Who knows, Aris may become the next great Gavoor trackman.

All our family in attendance in Philadelphia on that Sunday, September 2, 2018, was completely delighted and totally in awe of what we witnessed.  At the age of four, Aris ran a victory lap for his great -grandfather at the AYF Olympics.  Aris’s mother Anoush, Judy, and I keep quoting Aris to each other, “You know, I am very fast.”  What an Olympic memory for us all.

 


 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Old New Car – New Older Car


I had a 2002 Toyota 4Runner.  I loved it more each year I owned it.  I kept it for 16 years and 200,000 miles.  When it came time to replace it, there was no choice.  Another 4Runner was the only choice.  Twenty-one months ago, I traded in my 2002 4Runner which I loved and bought a 2018 4Runner.  I even wrote about it:  Old Car - New Car. 

While the 2002 was a compact SUV, the 2018 had grown into a full-sized SUV.  It drove well.  I could load and tote all of his music equipment into it with ease.  As a result, it was a bit harder to climb into but no issue for me.  My wife?  It was a different matter altogether. Except for trips to Home Depot, Menard’s, or to haul furniture, where the cargo space was valued, my wife refused to drive it or ride in it. 

It seemed idiotic to have two people in our household with two cars when one of the two of us refused to drive or ride in one of the cars.  So, I contemplated replacing my new 4Runner.

I decided to look at cars I always liked.  He wanted to keep my note near the same level that I could trade the 2018 4Runner for.  I owed $22,000 on it.  So, he looked for used cars with about the same number of miles.  I focused on three alternatives:

  • 2017 Lexus LS 460 – their flagship sedan
  • 2018 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 – their popular SUV
  • 2020 Subaru Outback Turbo Touring Model – a brand new station wagon


I like to consider a variety of alternatives that seem disparate to others.  This never works at a new car dealerships when I have tried to consider different models of the same brand.  The dealerships can’t and won’t process more than one car at a time.  But, this time I was at different dealerships.  I was looking at the Lexus both on Carvana and CarMax.  The Mercedes was at the Mercedes dealership where I had bought my wife’s E350.  The Subaru was at another local dealership.

I wanted the Lexus.  I ruled out the Carvana one and was set to buy the CarMax one.  They had to deliver it up from Nashville and that would take about ten days for them to get the car up to my local CarMax store. 

In the interim, a 2016 BMW 550i GT with low miles popped up one of my internet feeds.  I was interested in this car because it was an interesting hatchback on a 7 Series frame with the 5 Series interior.  I could tool around in style and still haul music gear when I had to.  It was at a Volkswagen dealership about fifteen miles north of me. 

I made an appointment to take a look at it and take a test drive.  I made another appointment, later, on the same day, to see the Subaru.  In this Covid era, I could take a test drive but by myself versus with the salesperson.  I got in the BMW, started it up, gingerly drove out the dealership and planned to get on I-294 East which was right there.  I wanted open it up a bit.  It had the speedometer displayed ‘heads-up’ i.e. displayed on the windshield a most cool feature.  I got on the ramp to the expressway and stepped on the gas.  OMG, the next thing I knew was going over 100 mph and I was still on the ramp.  I had a huge grin on my face and slowed it down to 80 mph.  Wow.  What a machine.  I had so much fun test driving it, I was like a little kid.  I called the Subaru dealership and told them there was no way I could test drive the Outback immediately after this BMW.  I decided not to wait for the CarMax Lexus.  I had to get this BMW, which I did… that very day.  I love it as does my wife:  mission accomplished.

Back in the 1980s, I was purely a Ford man.  I worked for Ford and only bought Fords and then a few Chevys.  But, as of the mid-1990s, I switched to Toyota and Lexus exclusively.  Now, we are a two German car household. 

My wife teases me about owning a BMW and justifiably so.  BMW has a slogan they have been using since the 1980s, The Ultimate Driving Machine.  One day in the late 80s, I was driving a Ford Escort station wagon on Franklin Road near my Bloomfield Township, MI home.  A light wet snow made the roads treacherous, but the front wheel drive of my humble Escort was able to navigate the slick pavement.  A fellow, obviously, more well-heeled than me, was in a 700 series BMW spinning his wheels unable to navigate a slight incline.  I slowed down, rolled down my window, and the fellow driving the BMW rolled his down as well.  Perhaps, he thought I might offer him some assistance.  No.  That was not the case.  Instead, in a combination of youthful and Detroit arrogance, I looked at him and snidely said, “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” as I rolled by.  Not my greatest moment.

Now, I own one.  The have since solved that problem.  My BMW is all wheel drive.

I will probably replace this car, down the road, with the Lexus LS as it a better car for the more elderly gent I am planning to be.  For now, I am enjoyed the heck out of, what to me, is truly my ultimate driving machine.

 


 

 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Chadwick Boseman (1976 – 2020)

 

Boseman as Jackie Robinson and James Brown
As Jackie Robinson and James Brown

I opened my computer and refreshed Google News.  I read that Chadwick Boseman passed away at the age of 43 from colon cancer.  He had been fighting it for four years.

The news is always reporting the passing of celebrities and luminaries.  At the end of each year, there is an accounting of who has passed.  I always look it over and reflect a bit on those whose work I admired.  During the year, I see others post their thoughts on when a celebrity pass on.  I rarely do.  I have pondered now and again why I am not more effected and emotional about these things.  I certainly admired many of these luminaries and saddened by their deaths.  I just never felt close enough to their work to feel the need to express myself on their passing.  I reserve that for friends and family, people I really knew.

Tonight, was different.   I was taken aback by the passing of this younger man.  Without knowing it, I realized I was fan.  I loved his portrayals of Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013), James Brown in Get on Up (2014), and, most recently, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017).  I have watched each of these movies several times.  He played all three strong historical and very different figures extremely well.

I first loved 42 because of his excellent performance matching brilliantly with Harrison Ford’s equally strong portrayal of Branch Rickey.  I watched it when it first came on cable.  I cannot say I had the same enthusiasm for Get on Up and Marshall.  I did eventually watch both and was amazed by Mr. Boseman’s performances. 

In most of the news releases on Mr. Boseman’s passing, they refer to him as the star of Black Panther (2018).  I also saw this movie and enjoyed it.  But, I really liked his work in the biographical films much more.  Black Panther did, however, have more press and positive reviews than the three biographical films.

I was sorry to hear of his passing.  I realized I knew nothing about him beyond his performances in these movies.  For some reason, I thought he was English mostly because his name was Chadwick.  Tonight, I learned that he was born in Anderson, SC on November 29, 1976.  He went to college at Howard University and graduated in 2000 with a degree in Directing.  He went on to study film in the UK and New York City.  In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles and transition to acting.  42 was his first starring role.  He did not disclose the cancer and kept working.   Somehow, it makes his fine films even more memorable and important to me.  In this biographical films, he certainly left us all a great legacy

I am very sorry to hear of his passing.