Reflections: Make St. Helena great again, part two

A column by Tony Smith

Whose views do not

represent  those of

The Montanian

 

“Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.”

Britney Spears, the Sage of St. Helena

 

What a swirl of events over the last few weeks. The Leader of the Free World, as the host of a Super Bowl party, (1) took a “selfie” with Li Yang, (aka Cindy), former owner (a euphemism for “Madam”), of “Orchids of Asia Day Spa,” one of several she owned in Jupiter, Florida, (the one frequented by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft), and more recently (2) was signing bibles for tornado victims in Alabama. Why, the reconciliation of those two events is “just a beautiful thing.” Paul Manafort, found guilty of laundering a cool $55 million overseas in order to secret it from IRS purview, 2 dozen felonies, bank fraud, and violation of lobbying laws, was given a sentence of 47 months by Judge T.S. Ellis (“I am a Caesar in my own Rome”), lending proof to the presumption that being white, rich, and having “proximity to power,” speaks volumes in the American Justice system (As of this writing, Manafort was sentenced by a Washington, D.C. judge to seven and one-half years for Federal crimes (more in line for White Collar crimes), and has 16 New York State criminal charges pending for which he cannot be pardoned). And lordy, of all things, kids with wealth and family connections are admitted to prestigious colleges based solely on those credentials? Surely JFK (Harvard) and George Bush (Yale), for example, had the grades to be admitted on their own merits, wouldn’t you think? One hates to be the bearer of bad news, but no, they didn’t!

EXILED:

LI YANG: Former owner (Madam) of Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

One hates to inflict a sordid occupation as LI Yang’s on St. Helena (not that it doesn’t already exist), but Yang’s exile simply means one less group of Chinese woman held in captivity, frequented by the likes of Patriots owner Robert Kraft who is not above colluding with Roger Goodell and the other NFL owners to impede the grievances of his mostly black players, but thinks nothing of exploiting a group of Chinese women held captive in a prostitution ring in Jupiter, Florida. One needs to keep the “well-lawyered up” Robert Kraft available to watch the inevitable hypocrisy as this situation unfolds.

JUSSIE SMOLLET: Actor

Jussie certainly got the attention he craved by the “staged” attack, and somehow escaped the 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for each lie he told Chicago police. Obviously, prestige and money have no racial barriers where justice is concerned.  Too bad he only paid $3,500 to his so-called “racist, homophobic attackers.”  Just think what $50,000 would have accomplished! Smollet belongs with the other exiled bad “actors.”

THE KARDASHIANS: An Update

Kim recently arrived in Paris in Cheeta Catsuit sheer head-to-toe Leopoard-print bodysuit from Azzedine Alaia collection totally important designer with complimentary lace-up booties $2,060 fans took issue with tone of Kardashian’s skin image attempting to look black watching Kim’s 13-month adorable daughter Chicago wear $592.00 Yeezy Heels and carry $17,500.00 Hermes Bag Kloe’s baby adorable True 11 months Tristin cheating on Khloe “hearts like ours are special they should be treasured not broken” 441 people talking about this Kanye slavery was a choice. Blah, Blah, Blah! Good Riddance!

FOX NEWS AND MSNBC:

One should realize that neither of these organizations are “newscasts.” They are simply propaganda machines for wings of the two major political parties; Fox representing “right-wing,” Republicans, MSNBC the “left-wing” Democrats. Both organizations make huge profits debasing and demonizing their opponents, all the while preying upon the fears of the American people. Let us send the most powerful representatives of these organizations to St. Helena, Sean Hannity of Fox, and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC (in the same freighter berth from Cape Town), in order to spew their vitriol on air waves unavailable to us.

JERRY DIPOTO: Seattle Mariners General Manager

“Trade It All” by Fabolous, Jagged Edge, and P. Diddy. ( Producers/artists of the Mariner “Walk Up” song.)

The Mariner franchise, existing in Seattle for 41 years, currently has the longest playoff drought (16 seasons) of the four major professional sports: NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. Last season’s Mariner record was 83-79, and appeared to be on the verge of breaking that playoff drought with the likes of designated hitter Nelson Cruz, second baseman Robinson Cano, shortstop Jean Segura, catcher Mike Zunino, and pitchers James Paxton, Edwin Diaz, and Alex Colome. Cruz, Cano, Segura, and Diaz were all chosen for last year’s All-Star game. Now they are all gone as Dipoto is “rebuilding” the Mariners, ensuring another 16 years of play-off futility. Felix Hernandez, with his 5.5 ERA, and obviously nearing the end of his career, won’t even be the Mariner opening-day starter for the first time since the 2008 season.  Thanks Jerry. Build your own team in St. Helena where virtually no one is interested (The Mariners have gotten off to a hot start, and as much as I root for them, I’m not holding my breath for a playoff berth). By the way, if you are searching for Safeco Field in Seattle, you won’t find it. It is now T-Mobile Park and will be until 2043, the next 25 years.

One further baseball note, Bryce Harper signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with the Phillies, (recently bested by baseball’s finest player, the Los Angeles Angel’s Mike Trout at $430 million), and by accumulating at least 500-some “at bats” this season will make $47,000 each time he picks up a bat. By contrast, the average yearly salary for Philadelphia residents is $41,000.

DEMARCUS COUSINS: Golden State Warrior’s center

“College does nothing for you at this point—get ready for the next level.”

Cousins was of course referring to Duke’s freshman phenom Zion Williamson after Williamson’s knee sprain suffered in February, encouraging Zion to abandon his coach, teammates and fans in order to prepare for the NBA. Fortunately for those of us who follow college basketball, Williamson is a young man of character, loyalty, and a joy to watch, rare of self-absorbed athletes these days using a “one and done” system that has corrupted the college game to an even greater extent. Not much of what former NBA great Charles Barkley says makes sense, but he does have his accidental moments of truth. According to Barkley, “I don’t want to see anybody get hurt. This kid looks like he is going to be a fantastic player. But I get so mad when people act like money’s the only thing that matters in the world. Oh dude, you’re going to the NBA. Don’t play. That’s ridiculous!” Tom Izzo, coach of Michigan State, said it more sarcastically: I think he (Williamson) should hang it up, and the reason I do is it gives the rest of us a chance to win a National Championship.” Wrong, coach Izzo! You just proved that a group of kids who have played together for several years can beat a Duke team with freshmen who will be in the NBA next year. One can’t make freshmen mistakes against a superbly coached and disciplined Michigan State team.

No coaches have profited more by this system than Duke’s Mike Krzyzenski and Kentucky’s John Calipari, but I expect the system to change after this season, one that mirrors baseball. A baseball player can be drafted out of high school by a pro team, but if he chooses a college (many do), he has a 3-year commitment before the pros can touch him. To be honest, a player of Zion Williamson’s size and maturity should be able to enter the NBA draft right out of high school. That in itself would help eliminate the “one and done” concept. One has to love the Villanova’s of the basketball world who recruit kids that can win championships without the lure of an NBA career in front of them, and are willing to make a 4-year commitment to that endeavor.

BILL WALTON AND DICK VITALE: One bombastic, the other clownish, but worth keeping around.

Dick Vitale has always been unbearable, but Bill Walton is, if nothing else, entertaining to say the least.  In the first place, the topic is invariably about: Bill Walton, of course! Additionally he throws in these occasional tidbits of local history, demonstrating, as they say, “just enough knowledge to make him dangerous.” Let Vitale “vitalize” the sport of curling on St. Helena, while keeping Bill Walton, one of the greatest collegiate centers to ever play the game, on the “Pac 12” and “West Coast” networks for a true “color commentary.” If America ever needed more “hippy” types from the 1960’s who can laugh at human frailties it is now.

A special note: We need no scientific study to conclude that smoking an excessive amount of “weed” may cause impaired personalities and behaviors. Bill Walton is living proof!

“AUGUSTA” AND THE “GREEN JACKET:”

“Well its springtime in the valley, on Magnolia Lane. It’s the Augusta National and the Masters of the game. Who’ll wear the green coat on Sunday afternoon?  Who’ll walk the 18th fairway singing this tune (Tiger)?  It’s the legend of Arnie’s army, and the Golden Bear’s throne (Nicklaus), the wood-shafted legend of Bobby Jones; It’s Watson, Bryon Nelson, Demaret, Player, and Snead. It’s Amen Corner, and Hogan’s perfect swing.

Augusta, your Dogwoods and Pines (and Azaleas), they play on my mind like a song; Augusta, it’s you that I love.”

Song and lyrics by David Loggins, third cousin to Kenny Loggins (an adaption-there is much more)

 

Dave Loggins, inspired by the par 4, 14th hole at Augusta National Golf Course, composed this “Masters Tournament” theme song in 1982. Some claim the music has a “Pavlovian effect” (Pavlov, a Russian Behavioral Psychologist), accompanied by the soothing voice of Jim Nance, one that induces sleep as frequently as the Dodgers change pitchers in a World Series. Please understand, I love the Masters of all the major tournaments. But why, oh why must the music theme begin in January? It is like Christmas music played in July. Surely John Williams, composer of “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” could be enticed to provide something a bit more inspirational? At least when the winner is walking off the 18th green, surrounded by a sobbing wife; and children, wondering what all the hubris is about, are just happy to see their dad for the first time in months.

And then there is the dreaded: Green Jacket ceremony! The Green Jackets were originally worn by employees of Augusta National to signify stuffy, entitled members (That would eliminate blacks and women until only recently). The tradition dates back to 1939, but it wasn’t until Sam Snead won the 1949 Masters that the winner received the Green Jacket. The winner is allowed to keep the jacket for a year and must return it the following year. Let’s be honest, have you ever seen a winner of the Masters Tournament caught in public wearing such a hideously-colored jacket? Never! In fact, rumor has it that several previous winners received speeding tickets taking that jacket back to Augusta National. Seriously!

Given that St. Helena has a golf course, let us consign a 24-hour version of “Augusta” to their clubhouse, and instruct all employees to wear Green Jackets. From what I understand, it would be the only “green” left on the island (No Dogwood, Pines, or Azaleas).

So there we have it, an array of individuals from the political, entertainment, and the sports world to make “St. Helena Great Again.” It would no longer simply be known for Napoleon Bonaparte’s place of exile, I can assure you of that. Again, this list is not all-inclusive by any means, but enough variety is included to surely enliven the place. Hopefully, the reader does not detect excessive bias, as the writer considers himself to be an “equal opportunity” exiler.

We shall next turn to the 1980’s/1990’s academic, dramatic, musical and sporting world of Troy High school, two of the richest and remarkable decades in her history.