Monday, August 22, 2016

Donald Trump: worth less and owing more than he says

"Donald likes to say his bankruptcy filings were just a tool he's been using for his businesses. He's had a string of failures. And you're not just talking about big investors. You're also taking about bond holders, not big banks — people who invested their retirements.” — Mike D'Antonio, author of the book "Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success

IF YOU know anyone who thinks she should vote for Donald Trump because he’s “good at business”, please disabuse her (or him) of that notion. According to Money Talks News, Trump is worth $10 billion less than if he’d simply invested in index funds. 

Even Forbes conservatively estimates that Trump is worth $6 billion less that he says he is.

The letters coming down at the closed Trump Plaza Casino in October 2014. 
Photo: Mark Makela/Reuters (from The New York Times)

The New York Times has conducted a detailed investigation which reveals that instead of being the skilled business man he purports to be, he’s a master of the shell game. I’m sharing with you the first 500 words or so of the investigative report with a link to the rest of the story.

Trump’s Empire: A Maze of Debts and Opaque Ties

By Susanne Craig

August. 20, 2016

On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sold himself as a businessman who has made billions of dollars and is beholden to no one.

But an investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. The Times’s inquiry also found that Mr. Trump’s fortunes depend deeply on a wide array of financial backers, including one he has cited in attacks during his campaign.

For example, an office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, of which Mr. Trump is part owner, carries a $950 million loan. Among the lenders: the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in a country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, after it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.

Real estate projects often involve complex ownership and mortgage structures. And given Mr. Trump’s long real estate career in the United States and abroad, as well as his claim that his personal wealth exceeds $10 billion, it is safe to say that no previous major party presidential nominee has had finances nearly as complicated.

As president, Mr. Trump would have substantial sway over monetary and tax policy, as well as the power to make appointments that would directly affect his own financial empire. He would also wield influence over legislative issues that could have a significant impact on his net worth, and would have official dealings with countries in which he has business interests.

Yet The Times’s examination underscored how much of Mr. Trump’s business remains shrouded in mystery. He has declined to disclose his tax returns or allow an independent valuation of his assets.

Earlier in the campaign, Mr. Trump submitted a 104-page federal financial disclosure form. It said his businesses owed at least $315 million to a relatively small group of lenders and listed ties to more than 500 limited liability companies. Though he answered the questions, the form appears to have been designed for candidates with simpler finances than his, and did not require disclosure of portions of his business activities.

Beyond finding that companies owned by Mr. Trump had debts of at least $650 million, The Times discovered that a substantial portion of his wealth is tied up in three passive partnerships that owe an additional $2 billion to a string of lenders, including those that hold the loan on the Avenue of the Americas building. If those loans were to go into default, Mr. Trump would not be held liable, the Trump Organization said. The value of his investments, however, would certainly sink.

Mr. Trump has said that if he were elected president, his children would be likely to run his company. Many presidents, to avoid any appearance of a conflict, have placed their holdings in blind trusts, which typically involves selling the original asset, and replacing it with different assets unknown to the seller.

Mr. Trump’s children seem unlikely to pursue that option.

Richard W. Painter, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and, from 2005 to 2007, the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, compared Mr. Trump to Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs whom Mr. Bush appointed as Treasury secretary.

Professor Painter advised Mr. Paulson on his decision to sell his Goldman Sachs shares, saying it was clear that Mr. Paulson could not simply have placed that stock in trust and pretended it did not exist.

If Mr. Trump were to use a blind trust, the professor said, it would be “like putting a gold watch in a box and pretending you don’t know it is in there.”

Read the whole story here

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Temptations — first-hand

“The Temptations still stand today, not in spite of those who left us, but because of them.” — Otis Williams

WHEN I discovered R&B music in college, I knew I'd found my groove — and The Temptations were a powerful throb of that sound's beating heart. They were one of the most iconic and popular music groups of the 1960s and 70s, and in fact, in the entire panoply of rock and roll.

Rolling Stone agrees. It lists them at #68 of the 100 most influential artists of the rock and roll era, and Billboard ranks them as #28 on its list of The Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Artists. They've won seven Grammy Awards, had four Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, fourteen R&B number-one singles, and three of their classic songs, My Girl, Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) and Papa Was a Rollin' Stone, are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

And Paul, lucky Paul, got to play with them Friday night, August 12, in Cedar Rapids and the next night in Des Moines at the Iowa State Fair. I got to tag along.

Below is the story of those two days and nights in pictures.

Rehearsal in Cedar Rapids was in the historic and gorgeous Paramount Theater

Sound check a few hours later. Left to right: Allen Cordingley, lead alto; Paul, lead trombone, Dave Sharp, tenor sax; Ken Kilian, bari sax; Mike Chesher, 2nd alto; Joel Nagel, 2nd trombone. 
Lynn Hart booked the horn section in Cedar Rapids.

In the break between sound check and performance, Paul took a nap in the car, and I walked around the Lindale Mall so as not to disturb him. Paul finished napping, found me, and we're walking along in the mall when I saw this SAME GUY that I photographed in Des Moines two weeks before! I stopped him and asked if he'd been at Jason's Deli on such and such a date. I KNEW he had been (you have to admit he has a rather indelible face), but I wanted to know if he was a visitor in Cedar Rapids or had been visiting Des Moines. (It was the latter.) He weirded me out the first time I saw him and it really, really, REALLY weirded me out to see him a second time. I mean, what are the odds of the only time I've ever been in the Lindale Mall in my life to be walking along and see this same guy — AGAIN. I kept telling Paul that his picture didn't do him justice, and when Paul saw him in person, he said, "I get it now."
I scored a Tahari jacket at Younkers and this dress at a little 
chain store out of Texas called Francesca's at the Lindale Mall 
while letting Paul nap before the show.
The concert was a doubleheader with The Temptations, followed by The Beach Boys
Some audience members arrived dressed to party like it was 1968.
It poured buckets on the drive from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids. By rehearsal it had quit. It began looking stormy again, but it didn't rain until at sound check when — as God is my witness, not to mention the entire horn section — they ran through I Wish It Would Rain, whereupon it did! It quit again, but kept looking worse and worse, but miraculously (wait a minute, wrong group) it didn't rain again, and the concert went ahead as planned. Well almost as planned, except for missing Ron Tyson whose plane was delayed.

Mark LiebermanThe Temptations' production manager who travels everywhere with them, was like some kind of ninja — everywhere at once, at the same time almost invisible. The show literally would not go on without him. I found him and his work so intriguing that I asked him, and he's agreed to be, 
my first HLSS one-person interview. Look for it soon.

Temptations musical director McKinley Jackson conducting rehearsal for the Des Moines show. In addition to being an excellent musical director, he's a gentleman through and through. Back row left to right: Derek Stratton, Andy Classen, Greg Warthen, Paul, Richard Early. Front row: Wayne Page, Clarence Padilla, Robert Espe, Dan Stevensonwho's president of the Des Moines Musicians's Union and booked the horns, and John Morgan.

The Des Moines show was part of the Iowa State Fair lineup. Left to right: Adrian Williams on guitar, Otis Williams (the one remaining ORIGINAL member of the Temptations), Larry BraggsTheron Derrick on drums, Kerry Truman on bass, Terry Weeks and Ron Tyson

Veteran Temptations member Ron Tyson on the left, musical director McKinley Jackson on the right. In the background, local horn section left to right: Derek Stratton, Clarence Padilla, Robert Espe, Greg Warthen, Paul, John Morgan and (partially obscured) Richard Early

Musical director McKinley Jackson with Paul, John Morgan and Richard Early

Left to right: Don Wyatt on keyboards, bass singer Willie Green, who has recorded and performing with Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, John Fogerty and George Harrison, Adrian Williams on guitar and Otis Williams.

Left: Terry Weeks has been with The Temptations for 19 years. Right: Two-time, Grammy-nominated singer Larry Braggs was the lead singer with the Tower of Power for 13 years. Theron Derrick on drums.

Kerry Truman on bass and Terry Weeks. 

Tenor and falsetto singer Ron Tyson has been with The Temptations for more than 30 years.
He took over for Eddie Kendricks who helped take the group to fame in the 1960s.

Left to right: Willie Green, guitarist Adrian Williams, Otis Williams and Ron Tyson. Their performance at the Iowa State Fair was over-flowing full. It was an outdoor show, but people packed onto the grounds so densely until they ran up against another (distant) building.

At the conclusion of this post, is The Temptations' upcoming schedule, so that you can catch them yourself, but for my overseas readers who might not have a sense of how completely iconic Motown music and this group were, I'm listing their Grammy Awards and their uber-famous songs that heavily influenced the course of rock and roll.

Grammy Awards

1969  Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals – Cloud Nine

1973  Best R&B Instrumental Performance – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

1973  Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

1998  Hall of Fame Award – My Girl

1999  Hall of Fame Award – Papa Was a Rolling Stone

2001  Best Traditional R&B Performance – Ear-Resistible

2013  Lifetime Achievement Award

From Wikipedia: The following singles reached the Top Ten of the United States pop singles chart or the United Kingdom pop singles chart or No. 1 on the US R&B chart.

1965:  My Girl

1966:  Get Ready
1966:  Ain't Too Proud to Beg
1966:  Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
1966:  (I Know) I'm Losing You
1967:  All I Need
1967:  You're My Everything
1967:  I Wish It Would Rain
1968:  I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
1968:  Cloud Nine
1968:  I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations)
1969:  Run Away Child, Running Wild
1969:  I Can't Get Next to You
1970:  Psychedelic Shack
1970:  Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)
1971:  Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
1972:  Papa Was a Rollin' Stone
1973:  Masterpiece
1973:  Let Your Hair Down
1974:  Happy People
1975:  Shakey Ground
1991:  The Motown Song (Rod Stewart featuring the Temptations)
1992:  My Girl

Upcoming Schedule for The Temptations

08/20/16  Beaverton, OR — Howard M. Terpenning Recreation Complex

08/21/16  Pasadena, CA — The Rose

08/25/16  Moncton, NB — Molson Canadian Centre at Casino New Brunswick

08/27/16  Cohasset, MA — South Shore

08/28/16  Hyannis, MA — Cape Co Melody Tent

08/31/16  Bronx, NY —  Loreto Park

09/02/16  Biloxi, MS — IP Casino Resort & Spa

09/29/16  San Diego, CA — Humphrey’s Concerts By the Bay

09/30/16  West Wendover, NV — Peppermill Hotel Casino

10/01/16  Las Vegas, NV — The Orleans Hotel & Casino

10/02/16  Las Vegas, NV — The Orleans Hotel & Casino

10/07/16  Youngstown, OH — Edward W. Powers Auditorium

10/09/16  Atlantic City, NJ — Borgata Event Center

10/13/16  Greeneville, TN — Niswonger PAC

10/15/16  Lisle, IL — Benedictine University, Goodwin Hall

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Explain to me how there's even 1%

“I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” — Donald J. Trump

I'VE BEEN posting quite a few columns of late by New York Times writer Charles M. Blow. I can't help it; he's articulate, insightful, and he writes from a position of first-hand knowledge. 

This picture was taken in my town, Des Moines, IA. Not by me, unfortunately. I should have been
there joining the protest. Photo by Michael Zamora and the Des Moines Register

Why Blacks Loathe Trump

By Charles M. Blow
August 17, 2016

So now Donald Trump is campaigning for the black vote. (Long, awkward pause.)

Like so much of what Trump has said and done, this new outreach forces writers like me to conduct scatological studies, framing Trump’s actions in their historical and intellectual absurdity.

But, here we go.

Trump, who got a shocking 1 percent of support among black voters in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, has been urged to reach out to black voters.

A day after The New York Times published an article pointing out that “the Republican nominee has not held a single event aimed at black voters in their communities, shunning the traditional stops at African-American churches, historically black colleges and barber shops and salons that have long been staples of the presidential campaign trail,” Trump ventured to a suburban town outside Milwaukee that is 95 percent white and 1 percent black to tell the black population of America — a population that has been consumed in recent years by a discussion of police misconduct and extrajudicial killings — that “the problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police, the problem is that there are not enough police.”

The speech was tone deaf, facile and nonsensical, much like the man who delivered it.

Then within hours of making that speech, Trump shook up his campaign in part by naming Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, the campaign’s chief executive.

This is the same Breitbart that the Southern Poverty Law Center referred to in an April “Hatewatch” report:

“Over the past year however, the outlet has undergone a noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas — all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.’”

The report continued:

“The Alt-Right is a loose set of far-right ideologies at the core of which is a belief that “white identity” is under attack through policies prioritizing multiculturalism, political correctness and social justice and must be preserved, usually through white-identified online communities and physical ethno-states.”

How are you reaching out to the black community when you step on your own message with such an insulting hire?

All of black America is looking askance at Donald Trump. He has no credibility with black people, other than the handful of black staffers and surrogates who routinely embarrass themselves in their blind obsequiousness.

Trump has demonstrated through a lifetime of words and actions that he is no friend of the black community.

Donald Trump is 70 years old. Surely there should be copious examples from those many years of an egalitarian spirit, of outreach to African-American communities, of taking a stand for social justice, right? Right?!

In fact, Trump’s life demonstrates the opposite. He erupted like a rash onto the public consciousness on the front page of The New York Times in 1973 because he and his father were being sued for anti-black bias at their rental property.

This is the same man who took out full-page ads blaring the headline “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” in New York City newspapers calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, a group of teenagers made up of four African-American boys and one Hispanic boy, who were accused and convicted of raping a white female jogger in the park. A judge later overturned the convictions in the flimsy cases and in 2014 the Five settled a wrongful conviction suit with the city for $41 million.

This is the same man who is quoted in the 1991 book “Trumped!: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump — His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall,” as saying:

“I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

The book was co-written by John O’Donnell, who was previously chief operating officer at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.

Trump is the same man who stepped into presidential politics by becoming the embodiment of the Birther movement, relentlessly demanding to see President Obama’s birth certificate.

This is the same man at whose rallies African-Americans have been verbally and physically assaulted.

Even Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump viciously attacked for his “Mexican heritage,” is a prominent member of one of the historically African-American fraternities and sororities, known together as “The Divine Nine.” In the black community, these groups serve as well-respected service organizations with active lifetime engagement and prominent members like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Zora Neale Hurston, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and Michael Jordan. In the black community, this attack by Trump did not go unnoticed, and it did not go over well.

(Full disclosure: Judge Curiel and I are members of the same fraternity — Kappa Alpha Psi.)

This is the same man who has scandalously maligned Muslims, apparently not realizing that it’s estimated that approximately one-fourth of the 3.3 million Muslims in this country are African-American. Indeed, the Muslim faith has deep roots in the black community because many Africans brought to this country as slaves were Muslims. The signs are everywhere. For instance, I spent my earliest years in the rural community of Kiblah, Ark., an area homesteaded by former slaves following the Emancipation Proclamation. In Arabic, kiblah is the direction in which Muslims pray toward Mecca.

Trump is the same man who repeatedly and falsely insisted that Barack Obama was the founder of the terror group the Islamic State. He then tried to weasel out of the backlash by incredulously claiming that he was being sarcastic.

This is the same man who has refused to reach out to black people in any way, including rejecting offers to speak before the N.A.A.C.P., the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Urban League. (Hillary Clinton spoke before all three.)

Donald Trump is the paragon of racial, ethnic and religious hostility. He is the hobgoblin of retrograde racial hegemony.

And this is the man who now wants to court the black vote? Puh-leese … 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why Simone Manuel's gold medal matters

“When I was growing up, we all heard about the black kids who got beat up or held underwater if they tried to go to public pools.” — Ebony Rosemond, founder of the website

NOW THAT the swimming portion of the Olympics is over, it's possible that I may be of more use in the universe. On second thought, not quite yet. We still have to finish gymnastics.

If you've been following the games or just watching the news, you know that Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual swimming event — the 100-meter freestyle. The hope is that Simone will inspire other children of color to pursue swimming for recreation, safety and sport.

It's yet another area of life where African-Americans have suffered due to discrimination, lack of access . . . and as always, white blindness.

From The New York Times:  

Will Simone Manuel Inspire More Black Children to Swim?

By Gretchen Reynolds

August 15, 2016

When Kendall Williams let her daughter, Bailey, paddle happily in a swimming class on the South Side of Chicago as a preschooler, she noticed the other parents seemed anxious.

“I don’t think any of them knew how to swim,” Ms. Williams said. “And they were afraid of the water and afraid for their kids.”

Ms. Williams, 45, and her daughter are African-American, as were most of the other families at the swimming class. While Bailey, now almost 9, swims competitively, most of the other children dropped out of the program.

Ms. Williams’s experience reflects one of the more intractable racial divides in American sports and culture. In the United States, a substantial majority of African-American young people and adults cannot swim or are weak swimmers, according to the most recent research from USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body.

It is a trend that has a complicated history, including segregated swimming pools and beaches, attacks against African-Americans at pools as well as socioeconomic forces that divided access to swimming pools along class lines.

But now there is Simone Manuel, the charismatic young Olympic swimming champion whose stirring, surprise victory in the 100-meter freestyle in Rio de Janeiro made her the first African-American woman to win individual swimming gold. Her overnight popularity has public health experts and swimming advocates hopeful that she may have the star power to close the gap and inspire more minority children to learn to swim.

The stakes could not be higher, since not being able to swim can be a matter of life and death. Yet in the United States, it is estimated that about 70 percent of African-American children and adolescents cannot swim an entire length of a pool by themselves, a standard measure of swimming proficiency, and about 15 percent of these nonproficient swimmers cannot swim at all. By contrast, only about 6 percent of white children and teenagers cannot swim, according to data from USA Swimming.

The consequences are devastating. African-American children and teenagers are almost six times as likely as white children to drown in a swimming pool, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Several years ago in Louisiana, six African-American boys and girls drowned, some trying to save the others, after one of them slid into deep water in a river. None could swim. A friend of the victims, who also could not swim, helplessly witnessed the tragedy, telling reporters, there “was nothing I could do but watch them drown, one by one.”

The 2010 report commissioned by USA Swimming and based on surveys and interviews with almost 2,000 parents and children around the country found that many African-American families remain profoundly suspicious of and even frightened by swimming as an activity.

Some of this anxiety is attributable to old Jim Crow laws, which restricted many pools to “whites only,” the study’s authors believe. As a result, many African-American families avoided swimming pools and, in the years since, did not enroll their own children in learn-to-swim programs.

The 2010 report found, in fact, that if a minority parent had never learned to swim, the chances were less than 1 in 5 that his or her child would be comfortable in the water.

Carol Irwin, an associate professor of health studies at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, who was a co-author of the report, said that many of the African-American parents and the young people who were surveyed for the study told the researchers that their fear of the water and of drowning was the primary reason they did not want to learn to swim.

This attitude has deep historical roots, said Jeff Wiltse, the author of “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.” A surge in the building of public swimming pools across America in the 1920s and 1930s attracted tens of thousands of new swimmers and set off the first recreational swimming boom, but these swimmers were almost exclusively white. Public pools often barred black swimmers, and many pools were situated far from minority neighborhoods.

“The few pools open to blacks were small, poorly equipped, and often located in places like the basements of buildings,” said Dr. Wiltse, a professor of history at the University of Montana.

A second swimming boom in the 1950s and ’60s occurred with the construction of thousands of private swim clubs in suburban America. Not explicitly closed to minorities, the pools were, however, a catchment system for affluent children, most of them white.

“You had multiple generations of white families who had a cultural tradition of swimming and passed that interest to the next generation,” Dr. Wiltse said. “And you had multiple generations of African-American families who had no comparable tradition. Instead, their experience of swimming typically involved exclusion and, more dramatically, drowning. For generations of African-American families, swimming has been associated with fear.”

Ebony Rosemond, who founded the website, said that beyond segregation, there has been a history of violence against blacks who ventured to beaches and pools.

“When I was growing up, we all heard about the black kids who got beat up or held underwater if they tried to go to public pools,” she said. “People threw stones at black kids who went to the beach. There is this legacy of fear that got to be associated with swimming, and it wasn’t just about drowning. It was also about being attacked and driven away.”

Last year, Ms. Rosemond created her website because when she and other parents of young African-American swimmers searched online for “black kids swim,” the only sites that came up were about drowning or racial episodes at pools. She wanted to provide resources that were “positive, not just about drowning.”

One of the most common questions she gets is about hair. Chlorine can react with chemically processed hair and may cause it to become dry and brittle, and concerns are in fact so pervasive among African-American girls — it was among the top reasons girls cited for not swimming, according to the 2010 report — that the website devotes a page to the topic. Its advice includes always wearing a swim cap, going natural, using antichlorine shampoo and conditioner after every swim, and perhaps considering cornrows.

A number of swimming programs are working to increase African-American participation. USA Swimming sponsors a program called Make a Splash that partners with local swim teams and cities to promote swimming among minorities by offering free or low-cost lessons and pool time.

Felecia Eaddy, 45, stood in line Monday at the Marcus Garvey pool in Harlem, waiting to sign up her 5-year-old daughter, Savannah, for swimming lessons. “My mother did not know how to swim,” Ms. Eaddy said. “She is 64 years old and she still doesn’t know how to swim, and I want to break the cycle with my daughter.”

Ms. Eaddy plans on bringing Savannah back as frequently as possible to develop swimming skills for “survival,” as well as exercise and confidence. “I encourage my daughter to be strong, and I think it’s important especially for girls to know they can do that as well,” she said. “Nothing about you can stop you, not your hair, your skin color, nothing.”

Joel Johnson, the president of the Chicago South Swim Club, where Ms. Williams’s daughter trains, fields a competitive team that is made up almost exclusively of young minority swimmers, and has produced several state champions. For these athletes, Mr. Johnson said, the experience of becoming first comfortable and then swift and strong in the water is “very empowering.”

“After watching our kids race, no one can hold on to the stereotype that African-Americans can’t be good swimmers,” he said.

The Annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet in Washington this year hosted the largest contingent of minority swimmers in its 30-year history, according to Gwendolyn Crump, the director of communications for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. More than 1,100 minority swimmers from 25 teams attended the three-day event.

The success of Ms. Manuel, along with Ashleigh Johnson, the African-American goalie for the United States women’s water polo team, and other minority Olympian swimmers reminds young African-American swimmers of what is possible, Mr. Johnson said. “I sent out a message to all of our swimmers and their parents to watch Simone and the other African-American swimmers and athletes at the Games,” he says. “I wanted them to think big about their own futures.”

Ms. Williams and her daughter dutifully cheered as Ms. Manuel won her 100-meter gold and then, on Saturday, won the silver in the 50-meter freestyle and a second gold anchoring the medley relay.

“Bailey was very happy,” Ms. Williams said. “But it wasn’t because she was inspired, exactly.” Instead, she had her expectations confirmed, Ms. Williams said.

“She was happy that everyone else was so happy, but she told me that she already knew in her heart that African-American girls can win gold, because she’s planning to do it herself.”

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Don't poke the bear in the water

"Don't poke the bear." — Natalie Coughlin, USA twelve-time Olympic medalist in swimming

I SHOULD have given you a heads up that I'd be useless until the Olympics are over on August 21. Big fan. 

What an awesome start days three and four have been for the US! Lilly King beat Yulia Efimova from Russia to win the gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke, and Katie Meili took bronze. 

Lilly King (photo from the LA Times)

Katie Ledecky won gold in the women's 200-meter freestyle. Ryan Murphy did the same in the men's 100-meter backstroke, and David Plummer got the bronze. Gotta love David's story: at age 30, he's the oldest first-time US Olympic swimmer since 1904. 

And of course the US women's gymnastics team, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian, were golden in the team competition. We've followed Aly and Gabby since we saw them compete in person at the 2011 United States Gymnastics Championships.

Then last night, Wednesday night, USA superstars Allison Schmitt, Leah Smith, Maya DiRado and Katie Ledecky grabbed the gold in the women's 4X200 freestyle.

By now you've probably seen the video of the South African swimmer Chad le Clos — who stunned Michael Phelps at the 2012 London Olympics by beating him in the 200-meter butterfly — taunting Michael in the ready room as they waited for the 200 fly finals. 

If for some reason you haven't, here's the link to watch it. It's not to be missed . . . and the reason Natalie Coughlin tweeted: "Don't poke the bear."  

A still from the NBC video of Chad le Clos taunting Michael Phelps just prior to the 200-meter butterfly finals.

All le Clos accomplished was making the big bear in the water really, really, really mad — and turn everyone who watched his ill-advised, grade school attempts to intimidate Michael, against him.  

Michael's response was to completely ignore him . . . except for the by-now, famous glare that warned the world of what was to come. He thrashed Mr. le Clos (in the pool). 

Just a little over an hour later Michael underlined his unprecedented place in swimming history by anchoring the men's 4x200 freestyle, and with Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas and Ryan Lochte, won the Olympic gold medal for the United States for the fourth straight time. 

Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, Townley Haas and Conor Dwyer. (From USA Swimming and Getty Images)

Paul and I were fortunate enough to attend the 2016 Olympic Swimming Trials in June, and even though we were only there for two days this time around (it's our third trip to the trials), we still got to see all the US Olympic swimmers in person except for three of the women: Abbey Weitzeil, Amanda Weir, and Elizabeth Beisel and five of the men: Anthony Ervin, Nathan Adrian, Jimmy Feigen, Jay Litherland, and Ryan Held — although we saw Amanda, Elizabeth, Anthony, Nathan and Jimmy swim at the 2012 trials. 

That means that altogether we've seen the entire US men's and women's team swim in person except for three swimmers. How cool is that?!

At the 2016 trials
Here's the 2016 US Olympic indoor swimming team:  


Camille Adams
Kathleen Baker
Elizabeth Beisel
Maya DiRado
Hali Flickinger
Missy Franklin
Molly Hannis
Lilly King
Katie Ledecky
Simone Manuel
Melanie Margalis
Katie Meili
Cierra Runge
Allison Schmitt
Leah Smith
Olivia Smoliga
Dana Vollmer
Amanda Weir
Abbey Weitzeil
Kelsi Worrell


Nathan Adrian
Gunnar Bentz
Jack Conger
Kevin Cordes
Conor Dwyer
Anthony Ervin
Jimmy Feigen
Townley Haas
Ryan Held
Connor Jaeger
Chase Kalisz
Jay Litherland
Ryan Lochte
Cody Miller
Ryan Murphy
Jacob Pebley
Blake Peroni
Michael Phelps
David Plummer
Josh Prenot
Tom Shields
Clark Smith

We're fans! Can ya' tell?! And so many great stories behind them.

Kathleen Baker, who won a silver medal Monday night in the 100-meter backstroke, has battled Crohn's disease most of her life.

If you watched coverage of any of the races Conor Dwyer has been in, you've probably seen his large family cheering section that came with him to Rio. Well, it's for real. At the trials in June, it was a busload!

Team Dwyer

Here's Anthony Ervin's remarkable story: He won two Olympic medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics — gold in the men's 50-meter freestyle and silver as a member of the  US 4x100 freestyle relay team. He followed those wins with two gold medals at the 2001 World Championships, one in the 50m freestyle and the other in the 100m freestyle. 

Then in 2003 at the age of 22, he stopped swimming competitively altogether, and the following year he auctioned off his Olympic gold medal on eBay to aid survivors of the 2004 tsunami!! Wow!

Anthony began training again a scant year before the 2012 trials and still made the team in the 50-meter free at age 31. He was back at the 2016 trials at 35 years of age trying to make the Olympic team one more time — and he did. He and Nathan Adrian are co-captains of the 2016 team.

Speaking of Nathan Adrian, don't you just love watching him being interviewed? Nathan, who is the defending gold medalist in the 100-meter free, had a less than stellar swim in the prelims and barely qualified for the semi's. Asked by an interviewer about it, he said, "Eh. I was tired. I only had four hours of sleep after last night's swim. It's okay."

Nathan went on to win the bronze in the event and when asked by the same sportscaster afterwards, "What happened out there," he said, "I didn't have the fastest time in the pool. Other people people swam faster." 

And to the inane question of, "What was going through your mind?", he said "Swim faster." Gotta love a guy who doesn't suffer fools gladly.

Nathan and his bronze (From USA Swimming and Getty Images)
Then there's Maya DiRado. What an all around talent. Maya entered high school at age 13, at 15 received a perfect score on the math section of the SATs, and graduated from high school at 17.

Allison Schmitt is another study in recovery and fighting her way back. Allison was a first-time Olympian in 2008, earning a bronze medal. At the 2012 London Olympics she upped the medal ante to five: three gold, one silver. A few months after her remarkable success, however, she sank into a debilitating depression. Allison found the increased public attention overwhelming, and the personal pain she was in led to poor results in the pool which meant not qualifying for several international competitions. 

Allison turned to Michael Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, and with their support and the assistance of therapy, she pulled herself out of bed, back into the pool and back up on the medal stand. Allison, in fact, lives in Arizona with Michael and his fiancĂ© and their baby. 

Here's link to an article that appeared in The Arizona Republic about her fight with depression and the role Michael Phelps has played in seeing her through it. 

A photo I took of Allison at the 2012 Olympic trials

That's my story, morning glory. What can I say, we're fans. Below are photos Paul and I took at the 2016 trials.

Kelsi Worrell and Dan Vollmer finished first and second in the 100-meter fly

The medal ceremony for the 4X200 freestyle. Left to right: Ryan Lochte, Townley Haas and Conor Dwyer

Michael Phelps doing the famous Phelps flap in lane 4 preparing to swim the 200-meter fly

Michael Phelps pounding it home to (of course) win the 200-meter fly

Katie Ledecky in the red cap launching herself into the 400-meter freestyle
In the lead

Celebrating the win
Katie Ledecky in lane 4 preparing to swim in the 200-meter freestyle.
Ryan Murphy at the 100-meter backstroke gold medal ceremony