Meyers And Sons

It is August in Miami. That means hot humid weather. It’s in the low 80s when you wake up and still in the 90s when you’re ready to call it a day. It also rains every day. August is right in the middle of hurricane season, but our luck has held; the Caribbean has been mighty calm so far this year. But we get rain and when it rains, it comes down thick and hard with plenty of lighting and thunder to make sure it gets your attention. It rolls in fast on the wings of a western wind that drops the temperature ten degrees in sixty seconds, dumps rain by the buckets for 10 minutes, then bang, its gone; the sky clears and the sun quickly turns the wetness into a miserable outdoor sauna. It happens every afternoon. Sometimes twice.

Joe Meyers ran a paint store across the street from where I then had studio. He sold house paint, the Sherwood Williams kind. He also sold all the accoutrements you’d need to paint a room or a house: brushes, rollers, ladders – stuff like that. If you ever wondered where painters get their nifty white painters outfits, they get them at places like Joe’s. Pants and coveralls made from a heavy white canvas material, T-shirts with the ‘Sherwood Williams’ logo on the back in bright green ink, and white hats that looked like baseball caps someone squared in right angles with a pair of scissors. I asked him why painters wore white outfits since you figured anybody worth their salt in spreading pain around was bound to get some on their head or legs or arms. Joe didn’t know. What he did know was that your pro painters wore clean white clothes every day which meant their stuff got washed a lot which, in turn, meant they wore out fairly quickly. Joe said his biggest selling item was the white pants.

The store was called Meyers and Sons Paint. Joe was the one and only son. His father, also named Joe, started the business when Joe was a toddler. That was right after WWII ended in 1945. North Miami was still mostly sand and swamp then but Miami developers had started building north in the early 1940s. The war stopped things for three years but by 1946, subdivisions were exploding all over Miami’s northern suburbs. Joe senior built his store in what was then a tiny little strip mall and waited for suburbia to catch up to him. It didn’t take long. When it did, he was ready to sell them some paint. The sign went up when Joe was born. Joe’s dad must have figured he would have a brother or two before it was all over but it didn’t happen. Joe had a sister, who was born two years after he was; after that, no more little Meyers.

There was never a question in either of the Joes’ minds on what Joe Jr. would do when he graduated from High School. He would work in the store and eventually take it over from daddy. He did too. His father formally turned the store over to him in the late 80s. Joe senior was in his late 60s by then and thought he wanted to finally take some time off and travel around the country with Joe’s mother. The travelling bug didn’t bite too long. Whether his dad tired of the travel or his mother tired of his dad, Joe wasn’t sure. But Joe senior was back in the store within six months helping at the cash register, dusting shelves, and sitting in the back office drinking coffee with some of the old painters. He was there every day the store was open up until the week before he died in 1993. He loved the store; he loved his son cared about it as much as he did. His only disappointment was he had no grandson – Joe junior and his wife, Thelma, had no children.

I moved into the area in 1991. Joe was in his early fifties; daddy in seventies. I never bought a lot of paint there; maybe a half a dozen quarts over the twenty years I knew him. In fact the first time I met him was when I was walking back from the corner deli with a sandwich and one of those August downpours hit and I high tailed it to the closest shelter which was the awning the covered the front of Meyers and Sons Paint store. Joe had also been out there people watching when the storm blew through. He said then what I was to hear again at least a thousand times – “Your skin is waterproof you know. People don’t seem to understand that.” Standing under the awning, I could see what he meant. There were people completely soaked zigzagging up the street as if running in angles would somehow make them a smaller target for the rain drops. There were mothers under giant umbrellas walking up the sidewalk with a clutch of kids clinging to their waists. And then the little old Jewish couples in long sleeve slickers that hung below their knees walking patiently though rain with the same cadence they would when the weather was clear and dry. They dressed like that no matter the weather. I had learned long ago that old people in Miami – and there are a lot of them – somehow lost their ability to absorb warmth from the sun as they aged. They walk around on the hottest days in long sleeves and a jacket. When the evening temperature dropped into the 80s, they usually don a sweater too.

Mr. Butterfield On His Evening Walk Yesterday – It Was 92° Outside.

Joe and I got to be good friends. He always had a pot of bad coffee on the hot plate in the back room office and most mornings, I’d stop by after he opened to sip a cup with him before the morning started. By the time I knew him, there was a Sears store a couple of miles west in Opa-locka that sold pain a lot cheaper than Joe did so most of his business was with pro guys who bought paint by the five gallon bucket and had been buying from Joe or his daddy for years and years. These guys were dying out but there still were enough of them to keep the place going. And that was nice. Joe might not have sold a lot of paint in the neighborhood but it was convenient to be able to buy a paint brush or roller refills right around where you lived instead of having to trek all the way to Opa-locka. Plus the store had turpentine and for whatever reason, Joe sold a lot of that in the neighborhood. Joe said it was a good cockroach killer. He might have been right; lord knows we had tons and tons of cockroaches.

Joe closed the shop eight years ago in 2010. He was seventy two. I never met Thelma. They had a two bedroom bungalow down in Miami Shores. Joe and Thelma had been married for 26 years when the shop closed. They tried to have a kids Joe told me, but they couldn’t. He didn’t say why.

A carry-out open up in the store’s space in 2012. It last three years but lost their beer license for selling to minors. It has been empty ever since. The awning still covers the store front. The deli is still on the corner and I go there almost every day for coffee or a snack. Yesterday I was walking back when the skies opened up with drenching rain. I made it under the awnings without hardly a drop hitting me. Then I heard “Your skin is waterproof you know.” And walked across the street.

 

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A Fortune In Rocks

By Guest Contributor Ping Pong Wilson

Mo Brooks Talking Rocks With Ted Cruz

In May, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held hearings on rising ocean levels allegedly caused by global climate warming. Mo Brooks, a senior member of the committee and a Representative of the great state of Alabama, questioned Phillip Duffy on his view of what’s causing the ocean to rise. Mr. Duffy, who is president of Woods Hole Research Center, offered usual liberal mumbo jumbo of how fossil fuels were raising the temperature of the atmosphere. He didn’t know who he was playing with. Rep. Brooks is no dummy. He has extensive knowledge in science and had done a little research of his own.

Philip Duffy Lectures At Green For All Institute – A George Soros Front Organization For ‘Progressive’ Climate Change

Looking across the table at the scientist, Rep. Brooks said, “Mr. Duffy, have you guys ever considered rocks or dirt falling into the ocean? Every time you have that soil or rock whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise. Because now you’ve got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up.”

Duffy was silent, completely flummoxed. Brooks pointed to the White Cliffs of Dover and to California “where you have the waves crashing against the shorelines” and “you have the cliffs crash into the sea. All of that displaces the water which forces it to rise, does it not?” Brooks asked.

OUCH!! – Imagine This Times Billions Of Rocks

Duffy waffled by stating he didn’t think there would be enough falling rocks to have an effect. It was clear he really had no clue about it at all.

Shortly after reading this exchange, we started Googling research on rocks and ocean levels. Mo Brooks was right; scientists have completely ignored one of the most common occurrences on earth – rocks falling in the ocean – and the global rise in sea levels.

The English Are Destroying The World

This, of course, is simply another example of George Soros and his international tangle of agitprop organizations working to undermine American and its coal and oil industries. Listen to Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel or any CNN commentator and it’s all big oil or dirty coal or SUVs that are heating up the planet and flooding Miami beach. Just about every university in the world gets millions of dollars from Soros or Gates or Bezos to ‘prove’ this claptrap. But Mo Brooks, using physic principles so simple that even a child could understand, latched onto the real reason ocean levels are rising. And nobody was looking at it.

No one – no government, university or business group – is researching what causes rocks to fall into the ocean, the impact when they do and, most importantly, how to stop or at least slow down the rate in which they fall. Yet the United States government is spending billions – 211 billion in 2017 alone – on research on environmental issues like climate change, fossil fuel emissions and weather research. You read that number right – 211 billion last year.

Who in the government decides where that 211 billion gets spent? Why it’s the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology that’s who. And who on that committee would really like to encourage research on why rocks fall in the ocean – the senior Representative of Alabama, Mo Brooks. The need is obvious. We have created the solution. Here is the plan:

Last month, we incorporated a new research institute whose mission will be to assess damage of falling rocks to our oceans, develop tools to reduce or eliminate falling rock damage and create the capability to start removing rocks from the ocean floor. It’s called The American Falling Rock Research Organization, AFR²O.

AFR²O will become a massive organization and it will need money, a lot of money to achieve its goals. But as Rep. Brooks clearly noted, science has missed the boat on climate change and the time has come to invest in real solutions to fix a problem that could devastate cities around the world. Why should we let Singapore slip beneath the waves of the Indian Ocean or allow sharks to freely roam through the streets of downtown Miami? It will be expensive, but all this ocean rising nonsense can be stopped once we understand why rocks fall into the ocean and start taking them back out.

Our initial effort will be to identify the major causes of why rocks weaken and crash. We estimate that it will take about 500 million for that research to be completed. With another couple of billion, we can start a program to strengthen the most vulnerable rock areas and freeze their impact on ocean levels. After that, we begin reclamation. That will be a long expensive process; but that is where the money is in terms of saving earth’s major coastal populations.

AFR²O’s Initial Research On How Rocks Fall

That’s the plan. Right now, we are looking for five partners to ante up 10 million each to establish AFR²O’s Washington DC office and write first set of grant proposals. We should get our first 500 million in 2020, the second a year after that and then the real money starts to come in. Our business model shows a market cap of over 10 billion dollars for AFR²O sometime around 2024; that’s when we take the company public. Anyone to sticks 10 million in now will see that multiplied at least 20 times in four years.

Some Preventative Steps Are Simple

Some Complex (Preliminary Engineering Sketch – Dover Retaining Wall)

The dynamics of rising oceans is not some esoteric secret. It is simply one rock, two rocks, three rocks and on and on. The solution is just as simple. Generations of scientists have deliberately ignored literally the ground on which they walk upon because of ideology based ignorance and a misguided belief that demonizing fossil fuels will allow George Soros to put his puppets in the White House. It didn’t work in 2016 and it won’t work now. We have brave men and women like Mo Brooks to thank for that. But now we have to pay the piper and the AFR²O to restore nature’s balance in the world.

If you don’t have 10 million dollars, you can still help. Mo Brooks is on our side. We need to get the rest of his colleagues to join us too. Their names and emails are below. Write to them. Tell them you how you will contribute to their campaigns if they start helping to get the rocks out of the oceans rather than trusting the rocks in Philip Duffy’s head.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, 115th Congress, Members

Lamar Smith, Texas, Chair lsmith@house.gov

Dana Rohrabacher, drohrabacher@house.gov

Frank Lucas, Oklahoma, flucas@house.gov

Mo Brooks, Alabama mbrooks@house.gov

Randy Hultgren, Illinois Rhutgren@house.gov

Bill Posey, Florida wposey@house.gov

Thomas Massie, Kentucky tmassie@house.gov

Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas, Ranking Member ejohnson@house.gov

Zoe Lofgren, California zlofgren@house.gov

Dan Lipinski, Illinois dlipinski@house.gov

Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon sbonamici@house.gov

Ami Bera, California abera@house.gov

Elizabeth Esty, Connecticut eesty@house.gov

Marc Veasey, Texas mveasey@house.gov

Don Beyer, Virginia, Vice Ranking Member dbeyer@house.gov

Jacky Rosen, Nevada jrosen@house.gov

Jerry McNerney, California jMcNerney@house.gov

Ed Perlmutter, Colorado eperlmutter@house.gov

Paul Tonko, New York ptonko@house.gov

Bill Foster, Illinois wfoster@house.gove

Lamar Smith, Texas, Chair lsmith@house.gov

Dana Rohrabacher, drohrabacher@house.gov

Frank Lucas, Oklahoma, flucas@house.gov

Mo Brooks, Alabama mbrooks@house.gov

Randy Hultgren, Illinois Rhutgren@house.gov

Bill Posey, Florida wposey@house.gov

Thomas Massie, Kentucky tmassie@house.gov

 


 

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How To Build An Atomic Bomb

Ralph’s simple atom bomb recipe.

Building an atomic bomb that you can shoot across the Pacific Ocean on a ballistic missile takes a lot of work. But if all you’re going to do is clear some bush out in the country, you can make this simple atomic bomb in a matter of hours!

The Secret Is In the Black-Eyed Peas

Ingredients you will need:

2 four quart metal mixing bowls

4 lbs of uncooked black-eyed peas

1.5 lbs of enriched uranium (or 1 lb plutonium if available)

(Can’t find enough enriched uranium? see our recipe “How to Enrich Uranium The Easy Way” )

5,000 firecrackers (approximately 1 lb black powder when unwrapped)

2 lbs of Silly Putty®

1 roll of duct tape

1 box cutter

30 feet of #3 string

8oz Zippo® lighter fluid

1 9×13 baking pan

2 large plastic mixing bowls

Approximate Prep Time: Two Hours

Yield – 1 Megaton

Directions:

  1. Divide the Silly Putty® into thirds. Put aside two of the pieces. Place the remaining piece into one of the plastic bowls and mix in the uranium quickly and thoroughly. Form into a ball, approximately six inches in diameter.
  2. When finished put the bowl in the refrigerator, oven or any convenient metal box.
  3. Inside of each firecracker is about .1 oz of black powder. With the box cutter, slice open each of the firecrackers and empty its black powder into the other plastic bowl. Discard fuses, wrappers, etc.
  4. Knead the black powder into the remaining two pieces of Silly Putty® for five minutes or until the black powder is evenly distributed.
  5. Smooth the Silly Putty® mixture evenly into the 9×13 baking pan.
  6. Take the uranium ball and place it in the middle of the baking pan. Quickly wrap the sheet of black powder Silly Putty® around it to form another, larger, ball.
  7. Cut a four foot piece of # 3 string from the roll. Push one end of the string at least half way through the Silly Putty® ball.
  8. Pour 1 lb of black-eyed peas into one of the 4 quart mixing bowls. Take the Silly Putty® ball and place it on top of the peas. Cover the ball with more black-eyed peas until the bowl is nearly full. Leave the remaining piece of string looped over the edge of the bowl.
  9. Pour five oz of Zippo®lighter fluid evenly around the black-eyed peas.
  10. Now cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap. The plastic wrap should be large enough to extend over the edges of the mixing bowl by at least an inch. Near the edge on one side of the bowl, make a ¼ inch hole in the plastic wrap and pull the string through. Pull the wrap snugly over the rest of the bowl and secure it to the sides of the bowl with duct tape. Again, make a ¼ inch hole in the duct tape to pull the string through. It is important NOT to tape the string to the side of the mixing bowl. Ensure the string hangs freely through the hole in the duct tape.
  11. Fill the second four quart mixing bowl with black-eyed peas. Cover with plastic wrap and secure it in place with duct tape.
  12. Lay each mixing bowl on its side and carefully duct tape the bowls together, the mouth of one bowl to the mouth of the other. Work the string around the duct tape so that it remains exposed. You will now have one large eight quart spherical container.
  13. Double or triple wrap everything up with more duct tape. Make sure to leave the string hanging freely.
  14. Tie the remaining #3 string to the piece of string that goes into the Silly Putty® ball.

You are pretty much done. The big duct taped metal sphere you have is an atomic bomb. But don’t worry. It is harmless until you activate the fuse.

Ralph’s Hint: Make them two at a time. It doesn’t take much more time and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll use them up.

Getting your bomb ready to explode is simple. Take the bomb to where ever you want to set it off. Remember, this is an ATOMIC Bomb – it makes a big bang. Ensure there are no children or pets about. Watch out for windy conditions that could carry radiation where you don’t want it to go.

Once your bomb is in place, unroll the string so the end of it is at least twenty feet from the bomb. Liberally squirt the remaining Zippo® lighter fluid along the length of the string. It will not take much before it is thoroughly doused. Then simply light the end of the string with a match. Run.

Enjoy!!

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Golden Rears

 

The Tim Rogan Acoustic Love Seat

I made my first audio chair when I was seventeen. J. Gordon Holt had just reviewed the Dale Swanson Black Lightning Eams chair in this magazine. It wowed me! How could something a simple as a listening chair make such a difference in how you heard music? But it did. JGH was not ready to give up his standard Nekkers Headroom seat but he sure convinced me that the Nekkers was just as important in his sound room as his favorite Mark Levinson 20.6 monoblocks.

J. Gordon Holt’s Original Nekkers Headroom Chair

The Black Lightning sold for $8,500 in 1981. No way a high school kid running a neighborhood lawn mowing business was going to buy one of those beauties. But JGH’s review was full of details; enough for me take one of mom’s old French provincial living room chairs stored in the cellar and rebuild it into an simple listening chair: two pieces of grey duct tape on each of the panels that stuck out on the head rest; a couple pairs of panty hose pinned to the back of the seat and four two inch wide strips of rubber on the arm rests. Boy could you hear the difference!

Now my day job is refurbishing old audio equipment for a high end shop here in Chattanooga. When I am not tinkering with old set of Carver amps or refoaming a vintage AR, I am playing music in the listening room I set up in the shop. And I now have a Nekkers Headroom chair pretty much like JGH’s – updated with electronic ergonomic controls and polylaminate latex covers but still with the classic Nekker J shaped listening design. I have tested at least a half a dozen other chairs over the past ten years but the Nekker has never been surpassed in coupling absolute sonic neutrality with a listening position so darn comfortable that that you forget it is even there. I figured it would be Nekker’s for life just like they were for JHG.

Until last month.

Enter the Tim Rogan Acoustic Love Seat. A love seat? So right away you’re thinking, how can a love seat possibly work as reference audio chair? The whole idea of setting up a listening room is to pick the precise spot where the two sonic lines of whatever toed in speakers you are listening to intersect and put your head in exactly that spot. What use is a love seat? Only one person can be in the magic position.

Well – how about you and your buddy being able to listen to the same piece of music played through your show case reference system and hear exactly the same thing? Impossible? That is what I would have said to until Tim Rogan (Rogan’s Audio Heights, Madison, WI) offered to loan me one of his Acoustic Love Seats to play with for a while.

How could it possibly work? I spend an afternoon chatting with Tim to learn the secrets of his design. First you start with two skeleton frames that look like an airplane version of an Eams chair. The seat portion of each frame is a medium size square that slopes backwards into frame’s back. The back attaches at a rather straight 105 angle and rises up to the sitter’s shoulders. Individual headrests sits on top of each of frame.

The two frames are bolted together and the whole thing is covered with about four inches of speaker foam encased by polyester/latex blended cover. Each sitting position is taunt, upright and surprisingly comfortable.

The magic is in the headrest. Each headrest extends from the middle of your neck to about three inches above the top of your head. The headrests have two wings at ear level that protrude inward four inches towards your head at about 35 degrees. The headrest and wings are fully adjustable. Tim recommends a starting position with the wing’s placed so that they are centered on your ears and bending the wing angle so that it just catches your peripheral vision if you are staring directly ahead. You start from here and adjust things to optimize the sound.

Each of the headset wings are covered with what look like hundreds of sea shells covered by a thin layer of rubber. Tim will not say exactly what they are but it is these little shell thingies and the pattern in which they are layered to each wing that allow both listeners on each side of the love seat to hear the same sounds from the speaker exactly if you were sitting on a normal chair set in the sweet spot of the listening room.


The E. Dickinson XP-30 Limited Editon

None of this was convincing to me until I spent an evening with just me, my Nekker and the Acoustic Love Seat. First I set up the Nekker in its usual place for serious audio listening. My normal system is a Linn Sondek Lp12 with the SME M2-9 tonearm plugged a E. Dickenson XP-30 preamp fed into a pair of Ralph Cramden monoblocks. I am currently using a pair of Rutherfor Streaker 2000 speakers that Jerry Rutherford sent me to evaluate six month ago but sound so good in my room, I don’t think I will ever give them back. o

I started with Daniel Barenboim’s version of Pickleman’s Te Mentula Magna (LP, Decca DL1430). I have heard this contata with the TSO at Symphony Hall many times and the Decca recording captures the complex string timber and overtones of the first movement better than any other recording I have ever heard. I settled into the Nekker with the Dickerson turned up to 11 o’clock. Te Mentual Manga is a sonic masterpiece if done right. Barenboim uses four violas in the first section and they open the symphony with yawing bow work between the C and G strings creating a delicious harmonic that has a biting, almost rustic timbre. After eight measures, the seconds repeat the seesaw bowing as the firsts move up an octave and smooth the bow work into a liquid wave. The effect is mesmerizing if played right and captured accurately on the recording. In the Nekker, I heard familiar perfection.

Kramden Only Built A Dozen Of These Babies – I Have Two Of Them. Ha

I moved the Nekker out of the room and slid in the Rogan. Tim had told me to position the tip of inner wings of the two headrests exactly where the sweet spot of the Nekker was. And so I did. I then sat on the right seat of the love seat. I adjusted the headrest legs to the right height and length for my head. This, of course, threw off the position of the inner wings. I slid the chair slightly back to reposition the wings and adjusted the seat height downwards about an inch. The inner wings were back in the sweet spot.

I could not believe Te Mentula Magna when I played it again. It sounded almost exactly as when I listened with the Nekker. The first violas’ low rumble that starts the first movement was slightly darker than it should have been. I moved the outside headseat wing outward five degrees (Tim had told me never to move the inside wings once they were in the speakers sonic center). The darkness darkened even more. Then I adjusted them 10 degrees outward. The viola’s timbre was now restored to just what I had heard with the Nekker. It seemed to work every time – adjusting the wings outward, lightened the sound, sometimes making the 4-6Khz range sound a little watery. Slant the wings inward, and tones darkened with the bass then the treble starting overpowering everything else. But once you got the wings adjusted right, the effect was amazing. The sounds of the instruments was simply the SAME has when sitting in the Nekker Headroom chair.

But the soundstage was not. On Jason Bruels Hoppin Gitters, (LP, Columbia CS23945), Ray Crumble plays one rhythm guitar on the right side of the stage; his brother Eric plays on one the other side. On Watch The Dog, they are both playing the same notes but Ray is one octave higher than Eric. With the Nekker, I always knew their exact position on the stage – ten feet apart. The Rogan’s blurred the separation. Yes they were on opposite sides of the stage but four feet, six feet? I couldn’t tell.

I tried multiple adjustments with the various components of the chair. If I got the separation a bit more distinct, I lost the purity of the music’s sound. After futzing with the chair for a couple of hours, I called Tim for some advice. He came over the next day and basically repeated all of seating alternatives I tried and finally said it looked like they a bit more design work to do.

Don’t get me wrong. The Rogan Acoustic Love Seat hits right on all of its cylinders 90% of the time. But it’s not the Nekker.

A week later, I invited Tom Swift, a close audiophile friend, to listen with me. This was the first time two people who really appreciated great music reproduction could sit down together and hear nearly the same thing at the same time. Tom was an old hand with my reference system and the Nekker. His amazement match mine after 10 minutes listening to Golden Records’ re-issue of the Stone’s original Beggar’s Banquet recording (LP, Golden Records, O0100) on the Rogan Love Seat. He was asking ‘how is this possible?’ just like I did the week before.

Ears don’t lie. The Tim Rogan Love Seat would be a top notch audiophile chair if it only sat one person. But as a love seat – it is a piece of genius. You get it at a bargain price too – at just over $15,000 love seat is little less expensive than the standard Nekker Headroom chair and way way less than the Nekker Platinum version which comes in at $25,750.

Tim called me last week. They had the separation issue figured out (latex coating on the shells had to be changed) and he expects to have the new design in production next month. I am getting one of the first off the line as a replacement to review.

Unless are you are some kind of audiophile nut case, you should seriously consider the Rogan Acoustic Love Seat as your next listening chair upgrade. Your wife probably already thinks you’re a dope just because you coop yourself up in the listening room for hours each evening. Now you can invite her in and share your favorite music together. Who knows what will happen next?

 

 

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Last Stand On The Oche – Eric Bristow

Golf, bowling and darts: America’s everyman sports. Well maybe not darts in this country but the other two for sure. Anyone can do them. You don’t need to be an athlete; you don’t need expensive equipment. You don’t even have to be particularly skilled to have fun. They all came from England with our pre-revolutionary war forefathers.

Another thing about the three games is they are not actual sports. That embitters some of their more serious players to know end. But assuming you have two legs and at least one arm, you anyone can play them regardless of how obese, old or uncoordinated they are. If you don’t believe me, drive down to a local golf course on a week day afternoon and watch 70 year old ladies lugging their little oxygen carriers around from putting green to putting green. Golf requires you swing your arm 70 times in a four hour period, walk to and from an electric cart each time you swing your arm and periodically sip beer using the arm you aren’t swinging at the ball with. Donald Trump, who can’t walk up a path in Italy without nearly passing out, can play 18 holes of golf and still have the energy to pat some asses in the clubhouse. The average golfer’s caloric intake from the beer during a typical round far exceeds any burned through in an afternoon’s play. You can make the same argument with bowling and darts.

Beer is the twine that binds the games together though the part it plays varies by game. Golfers have to bring their own beer and since it is an English tradition that players stand upright through the whole game, its consumption is usually modest – a six pack a player a round is the common club rule. Bowling thrives on the stuff. Building a bowling alley is an excuse to build a bar. Beer Frames, Pitcher Perfect, Strikes and Splits – these are all time honored bowling traditions for guzzling brew at the alley. Remaining upright is optional going into the third game – that’s when most bowlers swear they bowl their best – their arms are finally relaxed and legs loose. Typically bowling nights end with a detailed post mortem of game strategy, plunkered balls and cheating over burgers and more beer.

Darts makes no pretense that a drink or two is incidental to the game. Darts is a drinking game. You play it in bars. You play it with dart in your right hand and a beer in your left when it isn’t holding a cigarette. Lose a game, chug a beer. Win a game, chug a beer. Waiting to play a game, chug a beer. It makes no difference. If you’re a darter, you’re a drinker.

Name any of the world’s top five bowlers (Dick Weber and Earl Anthony don’t count – they have both been dead for 20 years).

Darters. We don’t have real darters in the U.S. But England has them. They have lots of them and they are real good. Popular too – darters a better known in England than NASCAR drivers are in the U.S. They are certainly more popular than pro golfers and bowlers. (Though nobody knows any pro bowlers do they? (Hint, hint – the top four bowlers in the world aren’t even Americans. Betcha even Trump didn’t know that one or we’d be doing some serious bowling alley building in this country.))

Everyone knows the top dart players in England. They are on cable TV just as much a basketball players are over here. There are dozens of darting franchises organized into darting leagues which play each other in games for league championships which end up in inter-league championships which lead to world championships (very similar to our baseball’s world championships – only played by the British franchises that organized it).

That is why the U.K. is experiencing a time of somber mourning right now. Last Thursday, Eric Bristow, England’s most revered darter (think Babe Ruth, Mohammad Ali, or Michael Jordan) died at the young age of 60. He died with his boots on. He was in Liverpool as a celebrity host at a Premier League event in Echo Arena. He suffered a heart attack midway through the games and died immediately.

Eric Bristow in Liverpool prior to the start of the Premier League games.

Bristow was not the U.K.’s first dart world champion. He didn’t he hold that crown the longest. If you look at his stats compared to say Phil Taylor or Jockey Wilson, he wasn’t the best well rounded player either. But what Eric did have was wondrous charisma and great timing. He broke into the game in the late 1970s just as British TV was searching for any sport and any player that they could splash on the evening telly and grab an audience. Eric Bristow did that. His was boisterous, sassy, and fast on his feet. They nicknamed him the Crafty Cockney both for his ability to confuse opponents on the oche and his cocky panache. Born in the Hackney area of southeast London, he was about as cockney as you could get. He mixed charm and humor with the instincts of a street fighter; he had the face of a Dickinson street urchin grown adult – a round head that framed a full mouth of jutting gapping English teeth. When he smiled – and he loved to smile – he glowed. When he laughed, everyone around him gleamed in a piece of his halo.

Eric Bristow in the early 1980s.

Eric Bristow dominated the sport from 1978 through the late 1980s. But in late 1987, he developed a throwing condition called Dartitis that prevented him from controlling his throw/release. Dartitis is like Yips – a mental block a person develops that stops them from doing something they routinely excel. Eric spent the next 10 years trying to overcome Dartitis. He regained is control from time to time but it never lasted very long so he turned to what most jocks do when their playing days are over – he became a TV commentator. His network was SKY.

Bristow worked for SKY from 1990 through most of 2016 when he was sacked for texts he sent ridiculing some victims of a British soccer coach pedophile. It was Eric being Eric. He apologized quickly but you could tell he was trying to figure out why. (He basically said that instead of the victims waiting for 20 years to go to the police with their accusations they should have just beat the fucker up as soon as they were old enough.)

Eric at Jocky Wilson’s funeral. Pimping Harrow Darts. Jocky would have understood.

Eric wrote an autobiography in 2010. His basic message was that he lived a good life, had no regrets. He was what he was.

‘I never drink before a game.’

A commentator once asked Eric if he ever drank during league play. ‘Never’ said Eric. ‘Oh, I’d have one or two pints to loosen up before the first round but that was it until the game ended’. One or two pints didn’t count as drinking to Eric. He said he usually had 10 to 12 pints on average every day between tea time and closing time. The man liked his drink – a couple of pints before a game was nothing.

Eric was a heavy smoker and had a fondness for curry. ‘I should be dead by now,’ he wrote in the autobiography. And eight years later he was. Watching darts and sipping Guinness. He wrote that script.

Eric Bristow 1957 – 2018

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The Germans Are Joking

“In Buddhist metaphysics, there is the idea of ’emptiness.’ To realize the emptiness of things is to say, ‘This is neither real nor nonexistent.’ Our perception of the candle refers to something real, in the real world. But this candle – the one we see – it’s mental content. And yet it’s also not true that the experience, the model in our minds, is unreal. It’s ’empty.’ ‘Empty’ may have been their way of saying that it’s just a virtual model. ‘Emptiness’ could be ‘virtuality.'” Thomas Metzinger, the German philosopher, to Joshua Rothman over coffee at a table lit by a candle discussing virtual reality, The New Yorker, 2 April 2018.

 


Thomas Metzinger, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz – Looking Very German

I know what you’re asking – did ‘real’ philosophy die with Ortega y Gasset in the middle of the last century? Is the mumbo jumbo of Thomas Metzinger any different than the nonsense that Peter Sloterdijk repeats in book after book (60(!!) so far) then the ethical fairy tales Thomas Pogge weaves around morality between diddling students? Ortega likely would have said ‘of course the candle is real – its light illuminates the table which my eyes perceive, the flame flickers in the same breeze that also waifs my face; should I touch the flame (which because it is real, I do not), my fingers will burn and blister. ‘Mental content’? More like neo-Kantian crap a la Metzinger. The added slam at Gautama Buddha is gratuitous. Though I am sure the Buddha would have much to say about virtual reality were he ever asked, ’emptiness’ would be the adjective he’d apply to the head inside the helmet, not to the virtual reality experience. I suspect he might add dullard somewhere in his description as well.

Joshua Rothman Demonstrating Practical Philosophy with the German V.R. Rig.

Rothman was too much of a boner to say anything of substance of Metzinger’s profound insight. He called it neither gobbledygook nor trenchant insight. Instead, he simply changed the subject and went on to describe how the experiences he had in the Virtual Reality laboratory earlier in the day fucked up his mind. He was being paid, of course, to write a sympathetic story about Thomas Metzinger. Let his editor take a crack at adding a clarification sentence if she dared (and she didn’t).

So this is how the whole thing happened: The New Yorker sends Joshua Rothman out to write on the current state of virtual reality. This is the New Yorker so we are talking to academia researchers, not the guys from Google or Microsoft or Apple who are productizing the technology. Somebody says, “Go to Germany. That’s where it’s happening.” and so he does. He finds a lab that has V.R. helmets, robots, AND Thomas Metzinger all in the same place. The Germans strap him in a helmet and start playing with his mind big time. Then he has cake and coffee with Tom (please, just call me Thomas). Eight thousand words of polished prose result. And that’s exactly what the publisher ordered. The story reads great. Dr. Metzinger gets another citation. When you finish the eight thousand word read, you sigh. Thirty minutes of your life now ’empty’. The Buddha would have called in endless suffering.

Gautama Buddha in the Buddha Helmet© Rig.

 

 

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