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The late comedian George Carlin once said, “It’s called the American Dream because you need to be asleep to believe it.” But locked in a 5-by-9 cell, behind maximum-security walls, a 6’1, 175-pound living nightmare of a jailhouse fighter had his own American Dream and he wanted it televised nationwide.
For a short time, that dream instilled enough fear that it gave the light heavyweight champion insomnia. Promoter Don King, sports’ most successfully rehabilitated ex-con, himself a man who newspaper columnist turned novelist and screenwriter Pete Dexter once described as “easiest to imagine as a disease,” someone who “for 15 cents will put boys in the ring and girls on the street,” wouldn’t go near this convict’s request to promote his next fight.
Even King, Mr. “Only in America!” in all his devious genius, couldn’t believe any fighter, let alone the public, would want any role in the twisted saga of James O. Scott. Some 30 or 40 years ago, just how important was boxing to America? It transcended sport.
And boxing had Muhammad Ali. On Sept. 15, 1978, only three weeks before James Scott fought Eddie Gregory, the No. 1-ranked contender for the light heavyweight championship in New Jersey’s Rahway State Prison, Muhammad Ali fought his rematch against Leon Spinks for the heavyweight crown in front of more than 63,000 fans at the Superdome in New Orleans. Cable TV was in its infancy. There were only four national television channels and 90 million people — 73 percent of American households — watched the fight on ABC. It was bigger than the Super Bowl and Ali reclaimed his championship in front of more eyes than any sporting event in television history (it’s still in the top 10 today).
So how in the world did a career-criminal snatch the keys to this kingdom from his cage in Rahway and convince Home Box Office to tag along and let him loose in every living room in the country?
Google just launched this treasure trove of old, extinct newspapers, indexed for the internet. Google says this new feature is best used by, typing ‘site:google.com/newspapers, followed by the search terms you’d like to use. For example, if you’re searching for a scanned article on the Berlin wall, you would typing in: site:google.com/newspapers “the Berlin wall”.’
Illustration: Jan. 1, 1910 issue of L’abeille de la Nouvelle-Orleans, a New Orleans-based newspaper that ran from Jan. 1, 1846 - Dec, 28, 1929, covering some of the most tumultuous times in the American South, including the end of slavery, the U.S. Civil War and Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929.
A new study by a UC-Berkeley graduate student has surprised a number of experts in the criminology field.
Its main finding: Private prisons are packed with young people of color.
The concept of racial disparities behind bars is not exactly a new one. Study after report after working group has found a version of the same conclusion.
The Sentencing Project estimates 1 in 3 black men will spend time behind bars during their lifetime, compared with 1 in 6 Latino men and 1 in 17 white men.
Arrest rates for marijuana possession are four times as high for black Americans as for white.
Black men spend an average of 20 percent longer behind bars in federal prisons than their white peers for the same crimes. These reports and thousands of others have the cumulative effect of portraying a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates black Americans and people of color in general.
The once exceptional U.S. economy is expected to remain ho-hum for quite some time. Read more in "Life in the Slow Lane" by Anna Bernasek on Newsweek.com or in the latest print mag, now on news stands.
"Spreadsheets was created to approach sex in a way that is both light-hearted and improvement oriented," says Danny Wax, Co-founder of the app.
"We wanted to create an app that entices users to have some fun with their partner and share in that afterglow experience, while encouraging open dialog and feedback."
Whereas some couples might have problems approaching topics like the frequency or quality of their sex lives, fun visual and logical feedback, including 30 earned “achievements” (like Seven in Heaven for a seven-minute rendezvous and Quick Spread for three-minute trysts), feels like a low-pressure way of checking in.
He saw it in me before anyone else—the ability to be a shutdown corner—when I was still in high school. But even though I didn’t wind up playing for Pete Carroll at USC, I’m sure glad I am now. If you’re looking for reasons the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl, start with him. And it’s not just his game plans, either.
The life of Jimi Hendrix, the American guitar hero who lived in London during the Swinging Sixties, was brief. After failing to leave much of a mark in America, playing in sessions with Little Richard and the Isley Brothers, he founded his own band, The Experience, in Britain and in three albums laid down and an indelible musical legacy, including his epic take on Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
In a new collection of Hendrix reminiscences, the guitarist looks back to the high days of the Sixties, when wearing military dress uniforms was the fashion and when the mere appearance of a colorfully draped tall Afro-haired American drew automatic attention from the British police.
People ask me whether I dress and do my hair like this just for effect, but it’s not true. This is me. I don’t like to be misunderstood by anything or anybody, so if I want to wear a red bandanna and turquoise slacks and if I want hair down to my ankles, well, that’s me.
All those photographs you might have seen of me in a tuxedo and a bow tie playing in Wilson Pickett’s backing group were me when I was shy, scared and afraid to be myself. I had my hair slicked back and my mind combed out. The jacket I’m wearing now is Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1898 I believe. Very good year for uniforms.
The other night I was about half a block away from the Cromwellian Club, wearing this gear. Up comes this wagon with a blue light flashing, and about five or six policemen jump out at me. They look into my face real close and severe.
Then one of them points to my jacket and says, “That’s British, isn’t it?” So I said, “Yeah, I think it is.” And they frowned and all that bit, and they said, “You’re not supposed to be wearing that. Men fought and died in that uniform.”
The guy’s eyes were so bad he couldn’t read the little print on the badges. So I said, “What, in the Veterinary Corps? Anyway, I like uniforms. I wore one long enough in the United States Army.”
They said, “What? You trying to get smart with us? Show us your passport.” So we did all that bit too. I had to convince them that my accent was really American. Then they asked me what group I was with, and I said the Experience.
So they made fun of that as well and made cracks about roving minstrels. After they made a few more funnies and when they’d finally got their kicks, they said they didn’t want to see me with the gear on anymore, and they let me go.
Just as I was walking away one of them said, “Hey, you said you’re with the Experience. What are you experiencing?” I said, “Harassment” and took off as quick as I could.
The author of our cover story, Joshua DuBois, is hosting a Twitter chat (hashtag: #BeyondTheRift) discussing what’s next after the Zimmerman trial for US race relations. We’ll get started around 3:00pm today, and will be retweeting both hosts and readers like you who offer ideas, questions, or thoughts. Hope you can join us!
(Side note: Our friends at Upworthy seem to be hosting a similar chat at the same exact time, so basically open up your Twitter at 3pm and get real with either or both of our chats. Maybe there will be some crossover!)
This week’s cover features two photographs, side-by-side, of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin with the coverline: “The Enduring Rift.”
For the cover story, President Obama’s former spiritual advisor, Joshua Dubois, weighs in with an essay that draws both on his personal feelings on the subject and on the thoughts of others. He begins by talking about a feeling of dread and anxiety and fear—not unlike what many felt after 9/11—after the trial. African-Americans, he says, may have a renewed sense of fear, worrying especially that their children could be shot by vigilantes with no legal ramifications. Some white people, he says, might see the case on a more micro-level, and focus just on the particulars of this incident, but he encourages them to step back and see the bigger picture and imagine how the situation must feel for many black people, who remember the stories of people like Emmett Till all too well. He speaks with Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights leader, as well as writer and poet Maya Angelou; and also emphasizes the need for forgiveness.
It’s online now, and you can read it for free in its entirety. Use the tag ‘The Enduring Rift’ to discuss it on tumblr.